By Nathan Boyd
We have all been there, late night in the office trying to finish that accounts report or tender document, you go out and grab a curry or a burger from the nearest corner, go back to the office and have a well deserved ten minutes break before getting back to that work and covering your keyboard in mayo. Luckily Mr Osborne was hand writing his latest speech so didn’t have to worry about that part, but he was enjoying the burger, a fairly pricey burger while working late in Downing Street, indeed there are several very popular fast food chains local that location, but by the powers of deduction we can safely assume he sent a staff member to fetch him his supper while he worked away at sugar coating his latest round of cuts to departments.
Up to the point of sending out his staff to fetch him a burger there is nothing wrong with the situation, we all have to eat. Here in Ruralshire we will regularly see the local police waiting in a que on a Friday night to collect a curry or pizza for the shift to munch on before crime fighting. But sending staff out, an expensive burger and then tweeting it in an attempt to be common have all been badly misjudged. Regardless of who paid for the burger, be it him or an allowance he will have access to, it still sends the wrong message of “yes, I feel the need to show the public we are all in it together”. A takeaway burger does not do this very well. Mr Osborne going shopping in Tesco at 3am may of had the desired effect, but only if tweeted by a member of the public and not his own twitter account. This is quite possibly the worse self portrait we have seen, he must have an unnaturally long third arm!
So after the damage was done the communities secretary came to the forum, with a very crisp looking shirt and fresh salad. While this can be seen as joke to some, such as Eric Pickles, it does show the childish tendencies of government. It is most likely the last thing George Osborne expected to see on is twitter feed the day of his austerity speech, and indeed joked about it during is speech by calling him a “lean example of government”. He takes this jokingly and continued with his speech. The damage was already done and the press had their teeth into it fully. With the addition of Eric Pickle’s photo plus the Burger photo it has spend around 5 days in the press. And while some of the reports will be in jest, it’s all printed.
We have seen this type of thing before. Gordon Brown and Tony Blair walking down a street eating ice cream littered with special branch officers. David Cameron flying on easyJet. Neil Kinnock running along the beach with his wife in turn falling over in the sand, and that being seen as contributing factor to the election loss. These publicity stunts are indeed just that, including the burger and salad photos. They all seem like a good way to make the politicians look like they are normal or more recently that we are all in it together. The only problem this time is that this latest publicity stunt is just that, the latest in a long line of gaffs by an almost entirely incompetent coalition government.
So what are the repercussions of these type of events. The problem the electorate is having is that all of these photo opportunity and token shows of austerity from the ruling class are being seen as just that. The unemployed 50 year old ex engineer from Sheffield can’t afford a cheep burger, and to him seeing the chancellor eating one, regardless of where it may of come from just compounds the fact that there is such a divide between the ruling and the ruled. All of this leads to trust issues between the government and the governed, and with parliamentary terms are now fixed to 5 years, as soon as one election is over the next one is being talked about and being prepared for. The lasting issues brought up by these type of publicity stunts far outlive any short term benefits for the official concerned. By not focusing on doing their job short term, they face a bleak long term future being unemployed and trying to remember just how tasty that £10 burger really was.