The occasion of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement proved a great opportunity to watch, listen and take in a serious economics presentation. But it wasn’t George Osborne’s words we followed. No, our interest was with Robert Chote, Chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). Since it was his presentation to a room full of journalists and commentators that followed the main Statement by George Osborne, the Chancellor. Yes, the OBR presentation.
Mr Chote is no politician. In fact this presentation marked the suspension, momentarily, of politics. This was economics. Financial oversight. Academic rigour.
The presenter, supported by his team, was as prepared as any professional politician. His OBR presentation pack ran to several documents including a very lengthy and unexciting PowerPoint presentation.
His presentation was full to bursting (FTB) with bullet points, facts, figures, three letter abbreviations (TLAs) and observations. The PowerPoint charts were numerous. But, they proved particularly hard to view, because of the lack of contrast. Note to the PowerPoint slide team at the OBR, light blue doesn’t make a good slide background, especially with a dark blue typeface.
His speaker notes for the presentation comprised a fully-prepared speech complete with the slide annotations. This showed prior preparation. Good.
But it also ensured that Mr Chote read the words in his presentation with little intonation. Yes, we must remember he’s not the politician. His task is that of prudential oversight! He kept on track. He didn’t deviate, nor did he stumble too obviously.
But there were some absolute jargon classics littering his speech. Among others we had:
We had “squeezed”. But not a “squeezed middle.” That might be a political phrase.
However, this was a heavyweight presentation whose timing owed everything to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. Its heavyweight nature undoubtedly appealed to the financial journalists present. But the combination of jargon and weight would probably lose many others along the way.
Because of that, its value will be in its re-telling and explaining. And that’s where the politics will start again.
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