It’s the sugar, stupid
George Osborne and the art of delivering bad news
You have to hand it to George Osborne, he knows his way around a headline.
“Here, look at the shiny shiny,” he said, as he pulled out the sugar levy. The public — or Twitter, at least — were too busy focussing on the sugar tax to take much notice of the downgrade in growth forecasts.
It’s a tricky thing, delivering bad news, but Osborne nailed the classic ‘distract and confuse’ tactic.
Tracking all mentions of #budget2016, below are the most commonly mentioned themes:
- Cuts 5.12%
- Sugar levy on soft drinks 4.36%
- Education 4.24%
- Savings/ISA 2.35%
- Growth 1.93%
- Corporation tax 1.89%
- Capital gains tax 1.36%
- Pensions 1.29%
- EU referendum and Brexit 1.10%
- Oil/gas 1.08%
- Fuel duty 1.04%
- Infrastructure 0.95%
- Tax allowance 0.89%
- Deficit 0.87%
- GDP 0.79%
- Climate change 0.77%
- Flood defences and insurance 0.77%
- Stamp duty 0.66%
- Tax avoidance 0.55%
- Inflation target 0.36%
- Homelessness 0.34%
- Alcohol 0.15%
- Tobacco 0.14%
- Downgrade 0.03%
The only thing Twitter cared about more than the sugar levy was cuts. This has to be qualified by the fact that ‘cuts’ is a very broad topic, covering cuts to healthcare, education, foreign aid, etc.
Growth was revised down for 2016 to 2% compared with 2.4% at the time of the autumn statement for 2015 and 2016. To say no one cares would be an overstatement, but whilst the attention grabbing sugar levy — or BruTax to our Scottish cousins— may not have confused, it certainly did distract.
Total tweets captured: 72,450 tweets (plus 129,188 retweets)