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Phil’s Budget Speech: Hot or Not?

On Monday October 29th, our Chancellor of the Exchequer, aka Philip Hammond, aka Fiscal Phil (he called himself that, not us) gave his yearly Budget speech. You can see our breakdown of what he said the government was going to do with its money here and here.

But here we don't want to talk about what he said but how he said it. We want all economy chat to be fun, interesting and accessible. On those measures, how did Fiscal Phil do?

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Talking about the economy!

We think the economy is a conversation we should all be part of, so the fact that the Chancellor bothers to make a big public speech about what he's trying to do to the economy gets a big thumbs up from us.

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Telling jokes

Humour is a great way to get people engaged and help them remember what's being said. And while we don't think Phil's gonna be playing Live at the Apollo anytime soon, we did enjoy his extended toilet-humour after announcing a tax break for public lavs. (He didn't want to get "bogged down" in it, but he was glad it "hadn't leaked".)

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It can be hard to know what all those big numbers being flung around actually mean for us in our real lives, so we appreciated Phil giving some concrete examples of who would benefit, and by how much. For example, he said that single parents working while on Universal Credit will get £890 more a year.

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Repetition of key points

There's a lot going on during the budget speech, and it can be easy to miss what was just said. But Phil's repetition of his key points: austerity is ending, the hard work of the British people has paid off, meant we knew what his most important points were.

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Making it not all about money

Too many people think economics is just about moolah. So it was great to see Phil spend lots of his Budget speech talking about other things: jobs, wages, council houses, mental health, the environment and high streets, to name a few.

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Acknowledging own ideology

Phil and his Conservative Party have some set ideas about how the economy works, ideas lots of people like (and voted for) but which not everyone agrees with. So it's good that he noted that he's talking about economic opinions, not rules by saying things like "this government has prioritised..." / "our fiscal rules..."

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When we ask people what turns them off about economics, they say it's because it always seems super negative. So it was nice to see Phil talking about bits of the economy in a positive way - saying there was "a bright, prosperous future" ahead and "we the British people have a record to be proud of". (Although whether that positivity works for you depends on whether you trust the gov or not).

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Despite Phil's attempts at some wisecracks, the whole thing felt a little mechanical. That's not throwing shade on Phil's personality - but perhaps politicians as a whole could rethink some of their parliamentary gimmicks (like referring to other MPs as "my right honourable friend") which can seem silly and off-putting to some viewers.

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Not explaining things

Phil often mentioned organisations, schemes and projects without giving any background for people who didn't know what they are/do. E.g. he talked a lot about the OBR, without telling us what it stands for (Office of Budget Responsibility) or what it does (looks at how the government is spending money and see if it looks like it'll end in disaster or not).


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Absolute numbers

The Budget involves a lot of numbers being thrown around: £20.5 billion for the NHS, £160 million for the police... but without putting those numbers in context, they become kind of meaningless. How many billions do governments normally spend on healthcare services? How many doctors or MRI machines will it buy?

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Highbrow language

It's lovely that Phil has a good vocabulary, but talking about "alacrity" and "aficionados" came across as a little pretentious. Not everyone will know what those words mean ("quickly" and "fans of" FYI) and as the Plain English campaign would say, there's no downside to speaking simply and clearly.

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Political bickering

Yes, how the government spends money is deeply political. Yes, it's good to know where different parties stand. But Phil's constant side-swiping at the opposing Labour Party ("Labour's carping and relentless negativity", "Labour's Great Recession") made the whole speech feel less like a a way to learn about the economy and more the world's nerdiest WWE fight.

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Some downright weird jargon

Anyone like to explain to us what Phil was going on about with his "fiscal headroom" and "double Deal Dividend"? Sure, using some economic terms can be useful but over-technical language like this is just alienating.

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What do you think of Philip Hammond's budget? Let us know on Twitter: #LetsTalkBudget

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Reader Comments

  • WhereAreTheVikings

    What a terrible, terrible shame. Western Civilization nurtured capitalism, and now capitalism is destroying it. And these young people seem to welcome the invasion of their homeland. The media and schools have been very efficient in wiping out all traces of blood and soil.

    • prollawalllynotahumanoid

      Capitalism isn’t the problem. It’s corrupt politicians taking bribes and kickbacks from Globalists and the Chinese.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        Maybe I should have said crony capitalism. Although Italians importing Chinese to make “Italian leather” shoes is not crony capitalism. It is capitalism, pure and simple.

        • prollawalllynotahumanoid

          That would be crony capitalism and globalism combined. They aren’t concerned with the affect their policies have upon their citizens, the health and welfare of their society and culture or their economy. What it isn’t is fair-free trade to further national interests.

          • WhereAreTheVikings

            I’ve always seen them as one and the same, but perhaps they need to be named individually, just to bring home the point.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        But now that travel is so easy and borders are virtually down through H1bs and the like, theoretically you can’t blame capitalists for the pursuit of cheaper labor, although I do heartily blame them not being more patriotic than that. Perhaps the emerging nationalism will force them to voluntarily do what they should have morally been doing all along, and that is employing business practices that preserve their countries and nationalities. The government should be doing everything it can to encourage that, to the extent that small government should do anything but guard the borders and strictly, drastically, limit immigration.

      • Henry Lam

        It is China with its corrupted mindset affecting the world.

        • prollawalllynotahumanoid

          No it is not. Capitalism is the fairest and least corrupt system of all.

          Socialism and communism is based on authoritarianism, coercion and police intimidation. It has and always will be rife with criminality, bribes and kickbacks.

          Corruption can be anywhere but it is the very basis of socialism and communism.

    • Henry Lam

      The government is too weak. They do not understand the mindset of communists and how they educate their people. Those communist people are only loyal to their country and could be dangerous. The immigration law should only accept those who accepted multiculturalism and taught from a democratic education system. This virus events clearly has shown how stupid to take China as a friend.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        The government is not too weak. Just weak-minded about some things.

  • Gabi Rodrigues

    For how many days can a country maximum close their borders to foreigners maximum? Like now, with the virus, everyone is using 30 days. Can it be more?