8pm LeftWatch: Vince Cable attacks Theresa May's immigration goal and defends his talks with Labour

5.45pm Video: On Sky News, Ed Balls attacks Treasury for leaking market sensitive information to Osborne

2.30pm Three videos:

10.30am Columnist Henry Hill: Thoughts from Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland


ToryDiary: Osborne gambles Britain would rather vote for a political party that cuts the price of beer than a government that solves Britain's debt problems. He might be right.

Numbers with union jack1
ToryDiary: Cameron can claim three historic moral achievements — 0.7% spent on aid. 2.7 milion people lifted out of income tax. Gay marriage.

ToryDiary: If politicians don’t look beyond the numbers in the Red Book, they’re neglecting Britain’s economy

Tim Loughton MP on Comment: Political correctness is becoming more – not less – of a problem

Martin Callanan MEP on Majority Conservatism: We need fewer husky rides and more hard-nosed policies that will help people to get on

Local government: Nottingham Council using taxpayers money to campaign against spare room subsidy

The Deep End: Michael Oakeshott on why real conservativism is not an ideology

A Budget for an Aspiration Nation


"Using the word ‘aspiration’ or ‘aspire’ 16 times, the Chancellor vowed to ‘light the fires of ambition in our nation’ with a package of tax cuts and investment for businesses and housing." – Daily Mail

"An embattled George Osborne delivered government help for homebuyers, motorists and beer drinkers as he tempered fresh gloom on the economy with a populist budget that aimed to please swing voters in marginal seats." – Guardian

"The numbers dragged into paying 40p income tax is expected to rise from 4.1million today to 4.9million in 2014. The hike in personal allowance thresholds from £6,475 to £10,000 means 2.7million people have been lifted out of paying any income tax at all since 2010." – Daily Mail

Some summary bullet points:

  • Interest payments on national debt to eclipse combined budget for schools and police – Telegraph
  • Public sector pay capped for fifth year as 95,000 strike over Whitehall reforms – Telegraph
  • An annual cap is to be set on welfare spending for the first time under plans to stop benefit costs spiralling out of control… Where targets were breached, savings would have to be made within the welfare budget, which is open-ended at the moment – Times (£)
  • Double blow for middle class mothers like Caroline Bower who opt to stay at home while those who work full-time like Carmen Stokes will be better off – Daily Mail
  • "Local communities whose lives are disrupted by the coming new industry of fracking – the extraction of shale gas – may be compensated with substantial financial grants, Mr Osborne indicated" – Independent
  • Charities have praised the Government for meeting its commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on international aid – Independent | Save the Children audio

The BBC lists the Budget's key points | Yesterday's ConHome summary.

My budget today supports everyone who wants to work hard and get onGeorge Osborne's message to email subscribers.

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: You get up early. You work hard. You save. You do the right thing. You make Britain what it is. We're on your side.

The FT says most Tory backbenchers were pleased with the Budget

Field Mark Feb 2012"Mark Field, a more rebellious backbencher, said the mood on the backbenches was good following the Budget, although he did voice concern that the slight rise in borrowing figures could end up drowning out the tax cuts and business help in the headlines." – FT (£)

"Most Tory backbenchers seemed as pleased as could be expected with a Budget that was delivered against such a grim fiscal backdrop. They have retail measures to go and sell on the doorstep" – James Forsyth for The Spectator

The Budget was "modestly positive for the economy" but didn't dealk with the two big issues of bank finance to business and energy prices – John Redwood

Peter Oborne: Osborne has failed

Oborne Peter April 2012"n the wake of yesterday’s non-event of a Budget, we can fairly conclude that the Chancellor has failed. Mr Osborne has talked of austerity ever since his “emergency Budget” almost three years ago. But at no stage has he delivered it, or anything like it. He has lacked the courage to challenge Mr Brown’s inheritance." – Peter Oborne in The Telegraph

The reaction of other commentators:

  • George Osborne’s Budget will do no harm to the economy – it may even do a little good – but it was far from being the transformative exercise the country needs – Jeremy Warner in The Telegraph
  • In The Times (£), Jon Moulton tends to agree with Warner: "It would have been better if the Government had cut public spending harder and deeper at the start of the Parliament and forced a larger private sector to emerge. It would have hurt but we could be recovering now rather than stagnating."
  • "Michael Heseltine, the Tories’ genuine moderniser, appears to have influenced parts of the Budget with his innovative proposals for growth. It is to Osborne’s credit that he is willing to take some of these ideas on board." – Steve Richards in The Independent
  • Allison Pearson returns to the controversial childcare policy: "Our clueless Coalition has ensured that parents with a joint income of up to £300,000 are entitled to child care vouchers, while a mum who works three days a week to pay for piano lessons and school shoes gets no help at all. Brilliant, eh? Talk about robbing Petra to pay Pauline." – Telegraph
  • "This was a blatantly political budget. Most of the key measures will take effect after election day, leaving the Tories able to claim they risk being lost if Labour take power." – Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun (scroll down link)
  • Osborne's "determination not to spend what the country cannot pay for – a principle Margaret Thatcher championed – will strike a chord with the mainstream Tory faithful" – Macer Hall in The Express
  • In "small but symbolic" ways Osborne appealed to the strivers – Janan Ganesh in the FT (£)
  • Martin Kettle argues that Osborne is aiming for a one-nil general election win on the back of very modest economic growth – The Guardian
  • It was, writes Aditya Chakrabortty, 'A budget designed for the Conservative voter' – The Guardian
  • But if it was aimed at Tory voters Matthew Parris is not convinced that that's a sensible stratyegy: "It is occurring to the far-sighted among Conservatives that it might be a wise precaution not to win the next general election." – The Times (£)
  • Osborne pulls out all the stops to reflate the housing bubble – Ross Clark in The Times (£)
  • Allister Heath at City AM agrees: "his help to buy policies are a perversion of that Thatcherite tradition, which helped millions of ordinary, hard-working aspirational folk declare their independence from the state and from social housing. Osborne’s plan achieves the opposite: it injects social democracy into home ownership and is making people more, rather than less, dependent on subsidies."
  • Next month's hefty tax cut for the wealthiest will be Osborne's political obituary – Kevin Maguire in the Mirror

The reaction of the newspaper editorials:

  • The Telegraph: "While the Budget represented a move in the right direction, in the context of the crisis we face it was far from radical enough or bold enough."
  • The Times (£): "Mr Osborne’s announcement of guarantees for £130 billion of loans to aspiring home-owners trying to get a mortgage was a surprise. It is a bad precedent for the Government to get involved in this way in the housing market, as in effect the Government is supporting asset prices rather than allowing them to find a market-clearing level."
  • The Independent: "For all the Chancellor’s “difficult decisions”, then, efforts to bring the public finances under control have, at best, stalled."
  • The Guardian: "Where the chancellor effectively gives up on growth, and instead concentrates on how to dole out the pain, then no matter how cunningly he selects who he wants to protect, large parts of the population are going to get hurt."
  • Daily Mail: "God help us if we fall again into the hands of the jeering, juvenile mob on the Labour benches – the architects of all our economic woes – mouthing moronic soundbites and pulling silly faces in their country’s hour of crisis."
  • The Sun: "Ed Miliband’s Budget response, a vacuous barrage of tired personal insults, would have embarrassed a sixth-former at a debating society. He proceeded then to attack last year’s Budget. Doesn’t he read the papers? This one’s been trailed in them for days. Worse still he said nothing, not one word, about Labour’s alternative solution to the crisis they created."
  • Wall Street Journal (£): "Chancellor Osborne and Prime Minister David Cameron came into office nearly three years ago promising to lower the real barriers to growth and investment in Britain, but they have little to show for it so far. More cheap money isn't likely to change that, but it could well imperil both price stability and the pound."

Labour's message: You're worse off under the Tories

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 06.13.56"Now it is official: you're worse off under the Tories. From the working families who have to wait until 2015 for help with the costs of childcare, to a 2.4% drop in real wages over the lifetime of this parliament, life is getting more expensive and more difficult for most Britons. There is a small group, however, who will be better off under George Osborne's plans – the 13,000 millionaires who will be handed a tax cut worth an average of £100,000 in just a few weeks' time." – Chris Leslie MP for the Huffington Post

Max Hastings compares Balls and Miliband to the Luftwaffe

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 06.14.48

"The policies of Balls and his former boss, Gordon Brown, bombed Britain as devastatingly as did the Luftwaffe in 1940. David Cameron and George Osborne inherited smoking economic ruins." – Max Hastings in the Daily Mail

The Evening Standard has apologised after it published details of the Budget via Twitter before George Osborne had delivered his statementBBC

  • Yesterday George Osborne used Twitter but Stephen Glover feels politicians only use this social medium for propaganda and it only increases distance between voters – Daily Mail

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 06.17.43David Cameron has compared the EU’s reluctance to arm Syrian rebels with the failure of the international community to prevent atrocities in Bosnia
Times (£)

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Cameron uses PMQs to confirm that he's considering more intervention in Syria

Cameron reaches out to UK churches after Gay Marriage RowBloomberg

No10 insisted that plans to impose fines on newspapers that refuse to join the new system were “within the law”The Sun

Alex Salmond will reveal the date of the Scottish independence referendumBBC

Lords reject George Osborne's plan for employees to sign away their legal rights in return for receiving shares in their companiesIndependent

Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan have been elected unopposed as Prime Minister and deputy at a meeting of the Labor caucus after a spill was called and they were the only nominees

"Former Labor leader Kevin Rudd refused to run for the leadership of the party at the caucus meeting on Thursday afternoon." – Sydney Morning Herald | Andrew Bolt

Obituary for Sir Fergus Montgomery: "Right-wing MP who served as Thatcher's PPS"Independent


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