VAT hike gives Ed Miliband's Labour party its 'first PR victory'

The media coverage of yesterday's hike in VAT has given Labour its 'first PR victory' since Ed Miliband became leader of the party in September, according to one PR chief.

Miliband: A PR victory for Labour
Miliband: A PR victory for Labour

Following the increase in VAT yesterday from 17.5% to 20%, Labour leader Ed Miliband accused Chancellor George Osborne of ‘treating British people like fools’.

Yesterday the Chancellor said the VAT increase, set to last four years, was ‘reasonable and fair’ and even went as far as to suggest cutting back on the 50p tax rate for high earners when he had more money in the coffers.

But Miliband was quick to point out that before the election both Conservative leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said they would not increase VAT.

Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of MHP Communications, told PRWeek: ‘This has been the first PR victory for Labour since Ed Miliband became leader. Miliband's line, "wrong tax, wrong time", was memorable. Compounded with George Osborne being in Switzerland skiing at the time the country was hearing about increases in the cost of household items, it has been an all round shaky week for the coalition.

‘If the coalition had a plan to smoothly mark the moment of the increase and remind the public of why they believe it is necessary, that was completely lost.’

But Jon McLeod, chairman of corporate communications and public affairs at Weber Shandwick, added: 'I think Osborne didn't do a bad job. This is painful and he is making no bones about it. There are no easy choices.'

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