Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Osborne bombarded with tweet advice

George Osborne's tweet showed him putting a final touch to his Budget statement (George Osborne/Twitter/PA)

Chancellor George Osborne has taken his first step into the Twittersphere and was immediately bombarded with advice about what to do in the Budget.

Mr Osborne's first tweet came on the morning of the most important economic statement of the year, and promised he would "present a Budget that tackles the economy's problems head on helping those who want to work hard & get on".

It came complete with a link to the Chancellor in shirt-sleeves, apparently putting a final touch to his statement with the famous Budget red box on the desk in front of him.

Within minutes, the Chancellor's tweet was making headlines on the TV and radio, and after less than an hour, Mr Osborne's account had picked up more than 10,000 followers - many of them eager to give him the benefit of their economic advice.

Tweeter Luke Howard called for a cap on private landlord rents, Paul Gregory told him to tighten tax loopholes used by multinationals like Starbucks and Amazon, while Davey from Liverpool said he should lift pay rises for nurses above 1%.

Some advice was more satirical. Comedian David Schneider suggested the Chancellor could cut Twitter's 140-character limit on message length to 135 characters, with an exemption for those with more than 200,000 followers to avoid driving them abroad, while David Keen suggested "a tax on Budget U-turns".

Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott begged: "One personal plea. Please don't introduce a tax on tweets. It'll ruin me."

There was a lot of comment too about the other Twitter users who the Chancellor has chosen to follow. The initial list of 39 included former defence secretary and standard-bearer of the Conservative right Liam Fox, alongside seven Cabinet colleagues including Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague.

The Chancellor was following the feeds of the Treasury and his own special advisers - perhaps to keep tabs on what his team are up to - as well as the Conservative Party and House of Commons.

But there were also indications of the Chancellor's interests outside economics, with follows for service charity Help for Heroes, historian Niall Ferguson and Olympics supremo Seb Coe. Perhaps the most surprising feature on the list was the Beautiful World feed of nature photographs, which cheered the Chancellor up with a cute shot of a squirrel.

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