Editor's newsletter: making sense of the Budget - and the reality of prison in Iran

Alcohol duty, pensions and energy bills were among the topics targeted by Jeremy hunt’s 2023 budget. (Credit: Mark Hall)Alcohol duty, pensions and energy bills were among the topics targeted by Jeremy hunt’s 2023 budget. (Credit: Mark Hall)
Alcohol duty, pensions and energy bills were among the topics targeted by Jeremy hunt’s 2023 budget. (Credit: Mark Hall) | NationalWorld
The Budget is always about trying to work out what really matters, writes NationalWorld editor Nick Mitchell

I’ve worked in newsrooms on many Budget days over the years, and it’s always fascinating to see how the top lines decided upon by editors in our news conferences are usually wildly different to what readers actually care about.

While an editor will typically seize on the big political talking point (this time it was about Jeremy Hunt abolishing the pensions lifetime allowance - a move Labour described as a “huge giveaway to some of the very wealthiest”), if we look at what people are reading online, it’s always about the practicalities - how the Budget decisions will affect their daily lives.

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At NationalWorld we’re not interested in what our competitors are doing, or any editor-led notions of what’s ‘important’. When it comes to the Budget, we’re more interested in explaining how it will impact everything from childcare costs to the price of a pint, as our Money Editor Henry Sandercock did on Wednesday.

On childcare, our data team has also produced a calculator where parents in England can see how much they could save under the new plans, based on your child’s date of birth. (Different schemes operate in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.)

If you’re still trying to get your head round any aspect of Hunt’s announcement, you can find all of our explainers on our dedicated Budget page.

The scandal of ticket prices

🎫 Another money issue we’ve covered in depth as been the growing scandal of the price of tickets for live events. Anyone who’s tried to book a ticket for a major event - whether it’s the Eurovision Song Contest or the Beyoncé tour - will have experienced the stress of desperately monitoring your place in the queue, then finding out that the cheapest seat has shot up in value due to “surge pricing”.

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This is daylight robbery, and it’s been getting worse. So it’s heartening to see artists like The Cure’s Robert Smith fight back, on behalf of his fans. He had deliberately tried to keep ticket prices for the band’s US tour low during the cost of living crisis, so when he was alerted to Ticketmaster’s extortionate booking fees, he called them out, and secured a $10 per ticket refund. Not much perhaps, but it’s a sign that fan power, combined with artist support, can make a difference.

BBC have questions to answer on impartiality

✍ The issue that was dominating the national conversation this time last week was the BBC’s decision to pull Gary Lineker off Match of the Day for his comments about the government’s small boats policy. I’ve written about why the concept of “impartiality” isn’t as simple as the BBC thinks it is, and why director general Tim Davie is the last person who should be giving lectures about it.

Iran protests 6 months on

✊🏼 It’s six months since protests erupted in Iran, following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely. NationalWorld reporter Imogen Howse has spoken to two survivors of the regime’s brutal prisons, to hear their take on events in their homeland. The quote that stuck with me was this, from Zahra: “When my husband was executed, there was no reporting. But people are listening, and that’s all we want - for people to hear about what is happening.” Well worth reading this in full, as well as Imogen’s interview with exiled activist Azadeh Zabeti, who explains why the nation may just be at a turning point.

🎧 If you're looking for inspiration on what to binge and what to bin, check out this week's episode of our Screen Babble podcast, which also includes our Oscars debrief - and don't forget our Weekend Watch mini-episode.

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📧 You can write to me with feedback on this or any of our stories at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @nickmitchell. Have an enjoyable weekend - and check back to see how our rugby writer Martyn Simpson got on with his Six Nations predictions

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