Gordon Brown has backed down over his controversial plan to send a
leaflet to every home in the country explaining this week’s Budget.
But the Chancellor will go ahead with the move after future Budgets. He
has decided to seek legislative backing in Parliament first, after this
year’s planned mailshot provoked a political row (Campaign, 5
The Tories and Liberal Democrats opposed the pounds 1.5 million plan and
civil servants are believed to have expressed doubts about pressing
ahead without legislation.
The controversy persuaded Brown to scale down this year’s campaign from
a mailshot to distributing 1.5 million leaflets through post offices and
The Treasury denied that the plan had been vetoed because it would have
breached the Whitehall rules banning party political propaganda.
Brown’s amendment to the Government’s fiscal stability code will require
the Treasury to explain to the public how their taxes are spent.
But the Tories called this week for the leaflets to be ’independently
audited’. Francis Maude, the Shadow Chancellor, said: ’Honesty is one
thing - propaganda is quite another.’
The retreat is the first sign of nervousness in the Government about
attacks on its publicity spending. The Tories have condemned this year’s
35 per cent rise in the ad budget to pounds 80 million, and the Lib Dems
have accused ministers of sending out ’party political’ press