Brown's good day to bury good news

We have all heard the saying 'a good day to bury bad news', but last week saw the first good day to bury good news. Gordon Brown 'launched' the 2018 English World Cup bid just as the best economic news of the year broke. This might seem like a monumental blunder, but do not be fooled.

The Chancellor would have known the date of the Office for National Statistics' announcement on Treasury revenues. Not only this, he would have known they were sensationally good, too. Despite all the City doom and gloom, the figures showed surging tax revenues and a £2.2bn surplus. Brown will undoubtedly use this to taunt the Tories, who have been banging on about so-called 'black holes' in government finances for years. There is nothing the Chancellor likes doing more than proving he was right and everyone else was wrong. But he wanted to do all that next month, not now.

As a genuine football fan, he knows only one topic has an impact with the media equal to that of politics - the beautiful game. Brown announced the Treasury's investigation into the feasibility of a World Cup bid not just because he wants the reflected glory a success would bring - he wanted to deflect attention from the ONS figures.

Now all that good economic news will be covered more significantly at the time of the pre-Budget report. Labour's next leader has already pre-announced that growth forecasts will have to be cut, so that will not be the top story following his big statement next month.

Despite this the Tories claim the Treasury has scheduled the pre-Budget report on the day before the announcement of their new leader to bury bad economic news. They are sadly deluded.

In the longer term, Brown knows just how important a successful English World Cup bid would be, and he wants the credit. Just look at how Tony Blair's ratings soared when London won the 2012 Olympic Games.

But Blair was not told of the Chancellor's World Cup announcement, proving that their relationship is as frosty as ever. Meanwhile, Brown's office has told The Sunday Times that the Treasury would block the PM's latest attempt to have his own 'Blair Force One' plane. Such a plane would make only a tiny dent in Treasury coffers. In PR terms though, Brown's tough stance makes him look as prudent as ever.

The Tories may think they have more chance of beating Brown than Blair, but the Chancellor's PR skills are every bit as good as those of ex-PR man David Cameron.

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