News & Insights  |  Posted March 9, 2023

What’s the point of a pre-Budget media campaign? And what is “Treasury orthodoxy”?

Michael Martins discusses how a media campaign amplifying a Budget policy proposal can put an organisation’s policy issue on the agenda, plus find out what “Treasury orthodoxy” is and why it’s important.

Hello and welcome to the eighth edition of Directors’ Cut!

This week, the week before the Budget, we’re writing about our feelings what the point of a media campaign ahead of the Budget is and what “Treasury orthodoxy” means this time around.

In short…

  1. A well-crafted Budget representation can get the technocratic side of an argument onto HM Treasury’s radar, move the policy dial in under loved markets and unexpected ways, and help build out a working-level network in Whitehall’s purse-string-holding department. The submission deadline is 1 Feb and the Spring Budget is 15 March, so please hurry
  1. The Labour party’s manifesto-making process is an ongoing undertaking split across most elements of the party. 47 policy officers lead on policy development, and the Party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, and his office give final sign off. Influence points abound, but if you start reading about a Clause IV meeting in the press, you’re too late

If you’ve time:

Have you noticed that you’re reading the words “Treasury” and “Chancellor” in the news more often (and not just when former ones apparently forget to pay their restaurant bill)? If you, like us, think that this is no coincidence, dear reader, you are right. We are in the final legs of the pre-Budget campaign season (15 March is the blessed day). We’ve talked previously about the importance of a Treasury representation ahead of Budget day (here), and now you’re reading/hearing/celebrating/tolerating/ignoring the media campaigns off the back of those policy ideas.

So it can be a bit confusing and prompts obvious questions: “What’s the point of a media campaign if the Treasury has already made up its mind?” “Why is the Chancellor raising taxes during a maybe recession?” “Why is the PM so involved in this Budget if he already had a crack at being Chancellor – does Rishi love spreadsheets that much?” “Why is Rachel Reeves speaking at non-economic places to establish her economic credentials?” “Why is Treasury orthodoxy always said so angrily?”

Good questions, readers, good questions.

So, we thought we’d answer two (feel very free to answer the others in your various publications, though, friends):

1.     What’s the point of a pre-Budget media campaign?

2.     What is “Treasury orthodoxy?”

To read the rest of this edition and subscribe to Directors’ Cut, click here

Written by Michael Martins, Directors’ Cut brings readers our thinking on the complicated, messy world of politics in the UK while flagging potential opportunities and highlighting overlooked stories and issues. We hope you enjoy (and tell your friends).

Michael Martins, Senior Director at 56 Degrees North discusses the Budget.