Diary: Confusing Budget speeches for the Oscars

Charlotte Henry breaks down this week's affairs
Charlotte Henry breaks down this week's affairs

By Charlotte Henry

While last week struggled to get noticed, this past few days was never going to be quiet, containing as it did a vote and debate on Leveson, as well as the small matter of the Budget.

Throughout the saga, the reaction to the phone hacking revelations has veered from hysteria to boredom, and now on to anger. Anger, for many, that they perceive an opportunistic attack on press freedom that will have serious long-term consequences.

To be clear, there are now pieces of British legislation that relate to regulation of the media, and that is deeply worrying indeed, despite the safeguards politicians claim to have built in.


Many (although certainly not all) Lib Dems, not a group known for their love of Rupert Murdoch and his papers, seem to be coming around to the fact that the party leader may just have signed up to something rather illiberal indeed.

Ed Miliband, on the other hand, seemed just to want to thank everyone. I genuinely forgot for a minute that he was in the Commons and not accepting an Oscar. Indeed, having praised pretty much the entirety of both front benches, I was just waiting to for Ed to thank his parents and God before turning on his stilettos and walking back to his table.

Then we had the Budget, with Danny Alexander in full nodding dog mode, and George Osborne in full croaking frog mode. As one person pointed out to me, why does the chancellor insist on doing hour-long Budget statements when he cannot speak for more than 20 minutes without his voice cracking?

After the previous years omnishambles, you could practically hear the groans of despair from No. 11 as people began to speculate that government mortgage subsidies could help some well off people get a second home.

While I am on groaning, noises of despair were also fairly audible as 'Jo from Islington' phoned up Nick Clegg's LBC radio station phone in. It was quickly revealed to be Jo Shaw, who resigned from the Lib Dems over the continuing progress of secret courts, and phoned the deputy prime minister to grill him on the issue.

Given the fuss that was made after Jo's resignation from the conference platform, you might have thought it would have registered with Clegg. Seemingly not, as Jo had to remind him on air that she had resigned. Awkward.

The battle around the Budget this week was not one of distant economic theory, but something much more profound in modern Britain. Hashtags. The Conservatives wanted #aspirationnation trending, while Labour went for #downgradedchancellor. 

Despite the various of horrors of this week, we can at least be thankful that Nick Clegg did not insist on the return of 'alarm clock Britain.'

Charlotte Henry is a freelance political commentator and blogger. For more news and views, sign up to her weekly Despatch Box e-newsletter and visit www.digitalpolitico.net.

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