CHANCELLOR George Osborne chose budget day to join social network site Twitter.
A late adopter, Mr Osborne’s first tweet on his account @George_Osborne 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 at mid-morning the account had close to 20,000 followers.
The Chancellor was inundated with Tweets from members of the public as well as political opponents.
Twitter user 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%.
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.
Among the Chancellors following list were former defence secretary 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.
Business organisations the Confederation of British Industry, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors, the EEF and the British Chambers of Commerce were high on the list, alongside the International Monetary Fund, French finance minister Pierre Moscovici, the US and German treasuries, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates and the Economist magazine.
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 this morning cheered the Chancellor up with a cute shot of a squirrel.
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.