By Paul Goodman
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- Fears over Britain's Triple-A status ramped up in the Financial Times (£)
- A new dimension to the old criticisms of Mr Osborne by Lord Oakeshott: now that Mr Cable has effectively declared an ambition to lead his party, his old friend will be seen to speak for him from now on, as I argue on LeftWatch this morning – whether he really does or not. (An impression the Business Secretary's words on Newsnight yesterday evening will have heighened.) See the Daily Express, for example.
- More directly, Conservative MPs are evidently deeply worried. The Daily Mail stresses this, though it has not given up on the Chancellor, as its Editorial makes clear today. (This is Mr Osborne's very few pieces of good news.) The Telegraph, however, wants Osborne as a full-time Chancellor.
- Worst of all for Mr Osborne in the short term, the Express suggests that he has lost his battle with Ed Davey over wind farm subsidies. The Independent carries the same claim.
- And the Eurozone crisis remains unresolved (of course).
The Times (£) suggests that the only way out is further cuts in spending combined with a refired growth agenda. And even this won't do the trick in the event of a complete Eurozone collapse.
The Chancellor urgently needs wide political support for such an enterprise. I have urged a Commission on Better Spending – or to put it more starkly, Affordable Spending, with former Labour Ministers such as James Purnell playing a part.
But that was before the budget – and thus before both its U-turns and the dire economic news of the past fortnight. It is arguable that Mr Osborne looked like a winner then. He certainly doesn't today.
This may change, but for the moment I suspect that the mood in opposition thinking has shifted, and it now believes Ed Miliband is likely to be the next Prime Minister. This will have the effect of frightening off senior Labour figures from attempts by Ministers to lure them into a "big tent".
As I say, we haven't given up on the Chancellor over here at ConHome, but what has happened post-budget both to him and the Coalition more widely – think of the consequences of the Lords Reform vote – are making it look very hard for him to bounce back.