Gordon Brown and Count Dracula come in joint first for PR scoop of the week. On the eve of Budget the Iron Man of Prudence takes to the street outside number 11 with seven carefully selected multicultural urchins holding aloft replica red boxes. Wednesday – only the thickest of us will fail to infer – is payday for kids. Child poverty will be swept aside by a 0.06% rise in the lowered deductible threshold for demutualised preference shareholders earning over £32,384 after CTC.
How could any one of us with the tiniest vestige of a conscience dare to complain if next day the budget calls on us to dig into our pockets as born-again socially responsible citizens? What kind of loathsome, vile, creeping parasite could resent making a contribution to such a noble mission?
OK kids, off you go. Get back to stage school, tap class starts in 20 minutes, and thanks a lot for pre-empting the budget whingeing.
This sleight of hand has magicked us from “No tax increases are necessary: improvements will be paid for by efficiency savings” to “We must have tax increases if we are to pay for improvements” in the twinkling of a photo-opportunity and a wrench on an emotional lever.
By the by, it overturns a number of other entrenched ideas.
Number one, the imperative for politicians must now be “DO work with animals and kids”.
Number two, it shifts our perceptions of Gordon from dour bookkeeper to smiling human being. We now understand that here is a man who is listening – truly listening – to the voices of children. Well, not quite. If he’d listened properly, he’d have bought them all a Playstation.
Extending the human touch theme, there’s a photo of Mr Brown being handed a steaming cup of tea by his dutiful spouse as a post-Budget tonic. Could this good woman be Mrs Brown (nee McCauley, ex of Hobsbawm Macaulay PR) who promoted Emily’s list (the campaign to get more women in parliament)? More tea-ladies in positions of power, I say.
There is a mystery here, which investigative reporters should examine with the utmost rigour. The caption in the Daily Mirror claims it’s a cup of tea. But beneath the same picture in the Express, readers are informed that it’s a cup of coffee. When it appears in the Publican, will it be a triple Scotch?
Now, ladies and gentlemen, to our second act of the week.
Supporting the Great Gordoni, we have Count Dracula of Transylvania. A big hand for everyone’s favourite vampire.
According to the script, there is no heir to Count Dracula’s title, and the distraught creature of the night has flown into Britain on a desperate mission to recruit someone to assume the title when he dies (I thought the whole point was that he didn’t die, but let’s not concern ourselves with that).
The count has targeted Britain because it’s stuffed with aristocrats and he wants – wait for it – someone blue-blooded to follow in his footsteps.
And by the way, you might not have known that Transylvania is a beautiful tourist location, and it has a fantastic state-of-the-art Dracula theme park. You know now.