Osborne v Balls in Twitter contest
Published 21/03/2013 | 08:41
George Osborne has declared he is in competition with shadow chancellor Ed Balls over who can get the most followers on Twitter.
A day after joining the site, using the Twitter handle @George_Osborne, the Chancellor had racked up 33,400 followers despite sending just three tweets.
Balls has sent more than 3,000 tweets and has 77,500 followers.
"We're in a competition now," Mr Osborne told ITV1's Daybreak.
He said of his introduction to the Twittersphere, on a day when it could be argued he had more pressing matters to deal with: "I confess I didn't spend most of the day doing it. I did a couple of tweets.
"I'm getting used to it. But it's a fast and furious world out there."
The Chancellor was bombarded with tweets after joining the site. 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."
Mr Osborne's profile says he will be helped in running the account by the @conservatives team, and there were widespread suspicions that party officials will play a bigger role than the Chancellor in its contents.
In an interview, Mr Osborne also told Daybreak that he was surprised to see a mocked-up image of himself as former prime minister Lady Thatcher on the front page of today's Daily Mail, with the headline: "The laddie's not for turning." He said it had not given him nightmares as he did not see it when the first editions were published, but added: "I did choke on my toast and Marmite this morning."