‘The British public is fed up with being deceived, politicians need to come clean’ says Phil Hall

If I was advising any of the key political parties about their upcoming election campaigns I could sum up the mantra in one word … honesty.

The British public has become so indifferent to what politicians have to say because it believes spin doctors control communications, advising politicians to say what sounds best in a TV interview rather than what is best for the country’s future.

That is why the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne’s announcement that the Government plans to save another £25 billion was a breath of fresh air as far as comms are concerned.

It is not an easy message to convey and it certainly will not make him popular, but the harsh truth needs to be heard. I believe the British public is fed up with being deceived.

The shadow chancellor Ed Balls’ reaction was to come straight back on TV and trash Osborne: “We will make the cuts fairer,” was all he could muster. When asked to explain further he could not. I believe if Balls has got nothing to say, he would be better off maintaining his silence.

He did add that Labour would get people back into work and get the economy moving. The British public know that is already happening under the Tories, so what exactly was his point? Is it his view that the proposed mansion tax or increasing income tax, will somehow get people back into work?

To be fair Osborne did not explain where the cutbacks are going to come, other than the Government will continue to trim the welfare bill. But it is a start.

The French have shown that huge tax hikes have brought their economic growth to a halt. If Balls wants to target big earners in this country why doesn’t he have the, ahem, “Balls” to say so.

The reason is the tail is wagging the dog. In other words, the spin doctors are telling him to keep his counsel, keep the public at bay with a load of inconsequential twaddle and hope the Tories combust.

Of course the Government will be judged more on what it does than what it says, but taking the difficult route of revealing the harsh truth instead of banging the drum for the policies that have started to turn the economy around, has to be the right route if it is to rebuild trust with public.

Nick Clegg accused the Government of wanting cuts for cuts’ sake. Again does the public understand that? What it does get is that the country cannot keep borrowing and spending what it does not earn. That is honest and transparent to us all.

It is these simple messages, as long as they are truthful, that will ultimately restore the faith of the British public in our leaders. And Mr Balls remember, speak only when you have something to say.

Phil Hall was editor of the News of the World and is chairman of PHA Media. Phil writes a regular column for PRmoment.com.

Your PR Planning Guide PR Moment Awards 2020