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5pm Local government: Large majority of free schools stayed open today

5pm Teatime newslinks – PMQs, the Eurozone and public sector strikes

3.30pm Columnist Andrew Lilico: Has the 2011 Autumn statement destroyed the argument that spending cuts can help the economy grow?

PMQs 30th nov 112.45pm WATCH: David Cameron calls Ed Miliband "irresponsible, left-wing and weak" 

2.30pm Priti Patel MP on Comment: The support trade union leaders have from the people they claim to stand up for is at an all time low

12.45pm ToryDiary: Cameron attacks Ed Miliband as "weak, irresponsible and left-wing" during fiery PMQs

11.45am ConHomeUSA: Today's top Republican and American political news

11am Alistair Thompson on Comment: To end the pension apartheid, the PM must not give an inch

Maude Francis interview10.45am WATCH: Francis Maude: "Even in the week that this completely indefensible strike is happening, there are detailed, good, solid negotiations going on"

ToryDiary: Where was Osborne's break with Brown's childcare legacy?

Also on ToryDiary: George Osborne would have been more radical if it hadn't been for the Liberal Democrats. Do you agree?

Columnist Anthony Browne: George Osborne is a good Chancellor in the worst of times

Ed Holmes of Policy Exchange: Time for a more mature debate on public sector pay and pensions

Local government: DCLG to review collecting union subs

6a00d83451b31c69e2014e892bf270970d-250wiPublic sector strike set to be largest for a generationBBC

Chancellor's public sector pay announcements seen as provocative by unions – Independent | Metro

  • Striking teachers are part of a culture that is quick to whinge and slow to find solutions – Headteacher Greg Wallace in The Telegraph
  • "It is simply unfair for public sector workers to expect to receive unchanged pensions largely funded by workers whose own retirement provision is not nearly as generous." – Express leader
  • "There are only two types of people on strike today: those who will accept no personal sacrifice, however limited, and those who are too intimidated to defy their co-workers. In other words they are the selfish and the weak. We should be blackmailed by neither." – Ann Widdecombe

Neil O'Brien on the selfish unions: "Unless George Osborne finds a magic money tree, he must choose between restraining pay and sacking tens of thousands more people in the public sector. But militancy has not only been self-defeating. Preventing change for those on the inside who have good jobs has hurt the chances of those on the outside finding work. Jackpot pensions for older public sector workers make it harder for my fellow thirtysomethings to get work." – Times (£)

The cuts will be bigger in future years. They will last for seven years, not four.

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  • "George Osborne stunned MPs by announcing two more years of public spending cuts after the end of this Parliament.  This is to meet his target of eradicating Britain’s structural deficit – meaning Britain will endure austerity measures for six straight years. He will now cut £8billion from public spending in 2015-16 and another £7billion in 2016-17. The percentage cuts of 3.5 per cent and 2.7 per cent in those years, are far deeper than the Coalition’s current austerity measures, which average 2.3 per cent over the lifetime of this Parliament." – Daily Mail
  • "The OBR says that total borrowing 2010-2015 will now be £563 billion, compared to their forecast of £451 billion in June 2010 and £485 billion in March 2011." – John Redwood
  • "Despite the Chancellor’s deficit-reduction efforts, public debt will now peak at 78% of gross domestic product, or nearly £1.4 trillion. That is far above the 69% of GDP debt level, or £1.36 trillion predicted only eight months ago." – Times (£)

> Andrew Lilico on ConHome yesterday: Osborne's Autumn Statement is a message that he is going to miss his deficit reduction target

Grim and reforming times for the public sector
  • "On the eve of tomorrow's planned strike action over pensions, the chancellor imposed a fresh public-sector pay freeze and cut financial help to the lowest paid workers in order to pay for extra spending on schools, youth unemployment, house building and infrastructure spending." – Guardian
  • The number of public sector job losses will be 310,000 higher than the 400,000 redundancies forecast for this Parliament by the OBR eight months ago – Telegraph
  • "The Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that, in some parts of the country, public sector employees were paid more than 10 per cent more than their peers in private companies for doing similar work, the Treasury said. Unions claimed the proposal represented a move towards regional pay rates that would lead to a cut in wages for many workers, which they would be certain to oppose." – Telegraph
BUT pensioners and benefit claimants enjoy much bigger income increases than those in work

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  • Record rise in state pension as 'triple lock’ pledge is honoured – Express | Telegraph
  • "The Chancellor confirmed that most handouts such as unemployment benefit and disability living allowance will rise in line with September’s 5.2 per cent inflation figure. And OAPs were given the biggest cash increase in the state pension since it was introduced more than 100 years ago." – Daily Mail
  • Retirement on hold for 8m expecting to retire at 66 – Times (£)
  • Lib Dems insist they stopped benefits trim – Times (£)

Other Autumn Spending decisions

  • Osborne's £250 million relief for carbon intensive industry is attacked as "polluters' charter" – Telegraph
  • "£1.2bn will be taken from the Department for International Development. The UK will still hit its target to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on aid by 2013, however, because national income is now forecast to be lower." – FT (£)
  • Social housing tenants will be offered a 50 per cent discount on the value of their homes, with the money spent on new houses for social rent – FT (£)
  • Despite overall cuts in science spending George Osborne has delivered targeted help – BBC

New, new new – Osborne used "new" forty times in Autumn StatementFT (£)

Tory MPs in show of unity for Chancellor despite concerns about micromanagementFT (£)

Balls Ed WoodReacting to the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, Ed Balls said growth was "flatlining", unemployment rising and borrowing £158bn higher than plannedBBC

The politics of the Autumn Statement

  • "The Chancellor wants to say at the election: “Britain is on the right track, don’t turn back.” He hoped to “prove” that witha generous Budget at the outset of the campaign. Now he will have to rely purely on argument and, a little, on stronger growth. This is weaker ground." – Daniel Finkelstein in The Times (£)
  • Danny Alexander commits the Liberal Democrats to the same borrowing policy as the Conservatives for beyond the election – Alex Massie at The Spectator
  • George Osborne has as good as guaranteed his party victory at the next election – Dan Hodges at Telegraph blogs

Leader columns assess the Autumn Statement

  • "HE was not so much the Iron Chancellor as the Tin Man… Fortune favours the brave. Until the Tories find some courage, Britain's prospects are grim indeed." – Sun Says
  • "If the Mail’s fears are right, only a radical rebalancing of the economy can save Britain now. This will mean sweeping away employment taxes and red tape, immediately ending national pay bargaining, suspending the minimum wage, capping immigration (while more than 1million 16-24 year-old Britons are neither in work nor employment) – and reducing the size of the state, which is still hugely bigger than when Labour came to power." – Mail leader 
  • The Chancellor plays a difficult hand with skill – Telegraph leader
  • "This is a Government, and especially a Prime Minister, that exudes more determination than imagination." – Times leader (£)
  • The fact that Mr Osborne’s targets will now be reached later is not a disaster – FT leader (£)
  • Mr Osborne's message to his hard-pressed fellow citizens boiled down to little more than the stoical injunction to keep calm and carry on – Independent leader
  • "The forecast of austerity almost as far as the eye can see will probably come to be the central political fact of yesterday's statement. It means that the coalition parties cannot go to the polls claiming to have balanced the books." – Guardian leader

Commentators assess the Autumn Statement

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  • "The Coalition's pathetically timid push-me-pull-you muddling on compromises is beginning to look equally weak. The nation was screaming out for radical action yesterday, if not for now then for our dark future. Instead of bravery, Osborne was only able to offer up limited business help and gimmicky tinkering. No wonder one stalwart said: "We needed Osborne to be Thatcher today but he was Brown." – Tom Newton-Dunn in The Sun
  • "The bitter truth is that the Coalition has abjectly failed to cut public spending sufficiently – Simon Heffer in the Daily Mail
  • Margaret Thatcher conveyed clear purpose in a way that George Osborne doesn't – Nick Wood for the Daily Mail
  • "It was a disappointment that the Chancellor didn’t go further with supply side reform." – Jeremy Warner in The Telegraph
  • The gravity of the economic situation should be the catalyst for profound, structural reforms – Andrew Haldenby in The Telegraph
  • We are seeing almost Gordon Brown’s levels of “initiative-itis”. Yet the ideas also seem to be fairly small beer – Martin Wolf in the FT (£)
  • "Yesterday’s Budget from Osborne was thus a weird mix of neo-Brownite obfuscation, a shameless shifting of the fiscal goal-posts, tinkering, over-spun, not especially relevant projects, robust free-market rhetoric (unmatched by game-changing reforms), lots of silly corporatism, a few good but minor polices to incentivise new firms and (rightly) far more spending cuts – but only after the next election." – Allister Heath in City AM
  • "[Osborne] is no Thatcherite. He has no faith in monetarism, demand stimulus or free markets to serve recovery unaided. He has turned instead to classic statist intervention." – Simon Jenkins in The Guardian
  • Polly Toynbee calls it "The Bullingdon budget"; writing "the Chancellor has declared class war: a Tory assault on the public sector and the poor" – Guardian

Osborne Thatcher combo2

> Yesterday's ToryDiary verdict: We needed Osborne to be Thatcher, but he was Brown

George Osborne prepares for run on banks in troubled eurozone countriesGuardian

Screen shot 2011-11-29 at 18.12.13Storming of British Embassy compound in Iran

"David Cameron led worldwide condemnation of the attacks, calling them “outrageous and indefensible” and warning of “serious consequences” as relations between the two countries plunged to a new low." – Times (£)

  • Melanie Phillips: Hague's "puny" response – Daily Mail

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Reacting to storming of British Embassy in Iran, William Hague promises "consequences"

And finally… Boris Johnson attempted to beckon the Chancellor over to edge of a large hole on a visit to a building site in Battersea, south LondonTelegraph

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