On March 21 Twitteratti’s in the form of journos, PR’s, politicians and the public took to the social media monitoring site to openly discuss the #Budget as it happened.
It is interesting how something which most would have considered ‘boring’ in the past has become something to look forward too. And no I am not just talking about George Osborne and Ed Milliband at each other’s throats or the Speaker trying to quiet the house down. I am talking about other fellow PRs, journalists and politicians all taking to Twitter to comment on what was happening as it happened.
To be following the Budget and Twitter at the same time can be hard, and for some it was a battle to be the first one to uncover a scandal or comment on something that had been said. What was suprising was that in a Budget which had plenty of news (good and bad) the main scandal that was uncovered was pastygate!
It started out innocently enough with the disappointing news that we would have to pay more tax on such ‘warm’ products making the headlines. Then responding to the disappointment the PM wanted to show he was not out of touch with ordinary folk. He claimed he loved Cornish pasties and had recently eaten a pasty at an outlet of the West Cornwall Pasty Company at Leeds station. This naughty fib was quickly exposed when Network Rail revealed that particular outlet closed down five years ago.
Headlines showed photos of the PM tucking into pastries and the #pastygate scandal begun. People everywhere went to Twitter to comment on the scandal, post jokes and fake images of the PM and the Chancellor eating pasties. Twitter pages such as “Cameron with Pasties” were created. Headlines such as “The truth about Pastygate” and “Pastygate: Westminster row over whether tories eat bakery products” started appearing in the press.
Of course Labour then became involved and did a PR stunt of their own – attending a Greg’s chain to buy pastries (video can be viewed here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ed-miliband/9171338/Labour-dine-out-on-pasty-tax-at-Greggs.html )
Many people are wondering why a subject that may seem silly has become such a big deal. Many are questioning why people are more focused on the pastygate fiasco instead of other big news to come out of the Budget such as granny tax. My view is that this is a prime example of the effect of social media. If it wasn’t for the numerous conversations, jokes and hash tags relating to pastygate being created I question whether the issue would have reached this proportion.