Public Affairs: Soap Box - Kathrine Bancroft, associate director, PLMR

Budget 2011 was a curious beast. Thanks to pre-briefings galore, there were no surprise rabbits out of the hat, and MPs seemed to be bellowing out of a sense of duty more than any real enthusiasm or anger.

Ed Miliband did his best to manufacture some outrage and could have made much more capital out of the growth figures, but it says something when the hot topic on Twitter was the state of George Osborne's vocal chords.

It was styled as the 'Budget for Growth' and therein lies the problem. Growth is a laudable, necessary aim but since it (hopefully) happens in the future it's a very tough concept to sell in the present. There's a reason why the following day's front pages went with the fuel duty cut - people want to know what's going to happen to their wages, to their taxes, when they go shopping, when they go to the petrol pump. It's hard to get excited about something that hasn't happened yet.

And indeed, attacking plans for growth is also proving a sticky message wicket for Labour. People care, but they care more about how much money they have left after pay day.

The Chancellor stood up and delivered a speech that ticked various boxes - some aspirations (growth), some giveaways (fuel), he kept the Liberal Democrats happy (personal allowance rise) and ensured that his own backbenchers knew that there was no deviation from Plan A.

But looming over it all, the elephant in the Chamber, were the cuts. The cuts programme is so big and wide-ranging that even the most radical of growth strategies can't significantly break through.

All the messaging in the world, however positive, is going to have its work cut out if it is to have a chance of changing the one economic narrative that was set in stone last year and that continues to define the coalition.

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