Front Pages

A chorus of praise for Osborne’s first Tory Budget:

Fearless George slays the dragons

OSBORNE non-broken sword“George Osborne fearlessly slayed a string of dragons yesterday with the most radical Budget in years. He stunned the Left by introducing a £9-an-hour living wage, saying Britain ‘deserves a pay rise’. He also took his sword to tax breaks for non-doms and high earners. But the Chancellor tempered the surprise moves – and delighted the Right – with at least £12billion in welfare cuts” – Daily Mail

Budget makes Britain a better place to work

“This was a virtuoso Budget. It was more than a masterclass in wrong-footing opponents – more, even, than the continuation of five years’ work to repair the public finances, free at last from obstruction by the Lib Dems. This first all-Conservative package since 1996 was nothing less than a blueprint for transforming Britain into a better, more prosperous country – of self-reliant families, rescued from welfare dependency to enjoy the dignity and rewards of work” – Daily Mail editorial

Duncan Smith seen punching the air

“A new National Living Wage of £9 an hour is to be introduced to give hard-working Brits the ‘pay rise’ they deserve, George Osborne announced. In a stunning move, the Chancellor used his Emergency Budget to reveal that the new rate – £2.50 an hour more than the current National Minimum Wage – will be hit by 2020. The announcement was greeted by huge cheers from the Tory benches, with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith seen punching the air and shouting: ‘Fantastic’” – The Sun (£)

Hard-working Britain reBorne

Chancellor Alistair Darling at No.11 Downing Street. London, Britain - 12 Mar 2008“George Osborne’s Budget was historic. It wasn’t so much his ‘pay rise’ for Britain. It was his shifting of the national mindset away from decades of welfare dependency and towards ambition and hard work…This was a Budget we on The Sun could almost have written ourselves” – The Sun Says (£)

The Michelangelo of the British tax system

“On May 7 voters stunned pollsters and politicians with an emphatic endorsement of a vision of the country based on work, enterprise and investment. Yesterday George Osborne seized a historic opportunity to make that vision a reality. He did so with an assault on welfare offset by the promise of a living wage lifted from the Labour manifesto, and with changes to how the state is funded that led one perhaps over-excited expert to call him the Michelangelo of the British tax system” – The Times editorial (£)

Budget shows the Tories are the real workers’ party

“Mr Osborne’s boldness should help his party appeal to voters on lower wages who, despite May’s election victory, have remained somewhat wary of the Conservatives. Addressing that caution is necessary to ensure the party’s long-term electoral future, and yesterday’s Budget can be seen as the first draft of the Conservative manifesto for the general election in 2020, when the Tories will present themselves as the champions of hard work and self-reliance: the real workers’ party” – Daily Telegraph editorial



And praise from the commentators:

This wasn’t just a clever Budget – it was deeply moral

oborne“George Osborne has changed a great deal since his first Budget almost exactly five years ago. Then aged 39, he was a weedy figure with a thin, squeaky voice who had been handed a man’s job… Five years on, and the Chancellor has grown. His manner has mellowed and he has aged well. Now 44, he no longer resembles some sneering regency swell, but looks like a hard-working politician on a mission to improve the lot of the working man” – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

  • This cunning, chameleon Chancellor has won Britain’s respect – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

Osborne unbound delivers a blow to the state

“Mr Osborne knows the only thing that really moves political opinion in any lasting way is the element of surprise. When a party does something that confounds long-standing perceptions of it, voters notice. A Labour living wage barely registers because people expect nothing less from the left. A Tory living wage could be electrifying” – Janan Ganesh, Financial Times

Lazy British business needed this timely kick

MONTGOMERIE purple background“British businesses spend 70 per cent less on vocational education than their French counterparts and 55 per cent less than German businesses. Tory ministers looked at this woeful record and concluded that it was a problem that only government intervention could fix. The technical term for what we’re doing, one cabinet minister told me, is ‘to kick British businesses up their lazy arses’” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

Osborne Toryism sprawls across the political spectrum

“George Osborne called it a ‘Budget for working people’ and a ‘one nation Budget’ but there was another phrase which captured the audacity of the chancellor’s ambition: it represented a ‘new settlement’. This was Mr Osborne setting out a version of Toryism which sprawls across the political spectrum from Lawson-esque fiscal discipline and welfare cuts, to tax raids on banks and the rich that outflanked Ed Miliband to the left” – George Parker, Financial Times

This Budget gives hope to the young

“The most obvious fillip for the young was a higher minimum wage. Set too high, however, it could have done more harm than good, pricing inexperienced workers out of the market. By exempting the under-25s and opting for a gradual increase — to 60 per cent of median earnings, phased over five years — the chancellor rightly avoided that” – David Willetts, Financial Times

At last: the Tories splurge on defence

NELSON Fraser“So much has happened in this Budget that it’s easy to overlook one of the most important announcements: that George Osborne will, after all, fit a lock on defence spending to make sure that it stays at 2 per cent of GDP until 2020. The Spectator has been calling for this for some time; I called for it again last week– and, to be honest, more in hope than expectation. But the Chancellor has delivered; his pledge is watertight” – Fraser Nelson, Spectator

But cautionary voices could also be heard:

What about all the global chaos, George?

“It will be a huge challenge to keep this success story on track while Greece totters on the edge. As the deputy governor of the Bank of England, Sir Jon Cunliffe, has warned, the situation could become ‘dangerous’…it was careless not to tell the British people that warning signs are flashing over the possible implosion in the eurozone and a serious downturn in China and Asia — which would have an inevitable knock-on effect on our way of life” – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail

  • China bans major shareholders from selling their stakes for next six months – Guardian

Osborne’s most audacious gamble

FT“Mr Osborne bluntly announced a 40 per cent higher minimum wage for those over 25 years of age by 2020. Such a move is beyond bold. In essence, the chancellor hopes to force businesses into filling the gap being left by the withdrawal of the state…How the economy will react is impossible to say. Were the plan to fail, the result would be widespread business failure” – Financial Times editorial

We’ll be paying more tax

“Budgets are frequently not quite what they seem. Try this: listening to Mr Osborne talking about tax breaks for millions of people, would you assume that the tax take in this Parliament is going to go up or go down? The answer is up, but you have to get to page 89 of the Office for Budget Responsibility’s report to see it” – Hamish McRae, Independent

  • Budget contains £47 billion of tax rises – Financial Times
  • Road tax reform will hit drivers of luxury and greenest cars hardest – Daily Mail
  • Osborne caps public sector pay rises at one per cent for another four years – Daily Mail
  • Super-rich suffer in cull of the non-doms – Daily Mail

This Budget will deepen the poverty trap

“For poorly paid grafters in more penurious families, cuts to benefits and tax credits will overwhelm the gain: the net losses will frequently reach the high hundreds of pounds a year, and occasionally the low thousands. For all the talk of rewarding hard work, the government is going to start snatching tax credits back at lower levels of earnings than presently, and will also snatch them away faster too, deepening the poverty trap” – Guardian editorial

  • Osborne’s class spite wrapped in spin will feed a backlash – Seumas Milne, Guardian
  • Sturgeon leads “pay rise” Budget criticism – Scotsman
  • DUP will not follow Osborne’s lead on Sunday trading – Belfast Telegraph

But it was generally agreed that the Chancellor has dished the Labour Party:

Labour holes“He has followed Benjamin Disraeli, who, back in 1867, ‘dished the Whigs’ by promoting parliamentary reform. Now Mr Osborne has dished the Labour Party by hiking minimum wages. The chancellor is indeed a true follower of Disraeli, who was also the founder of the ‘one nation Toryism’ to which the chancellor referred so often. The combination of high rhetoric with remarkable flexibility was characteristic of Disraeli” – Martin Wolf, Financial Times

  • Osborne stole Labour’s best election promises – Jonathan Freedland, Guardian
  • Osborne makes life even harder for Labour – George Eaton, New Statesman
  • Day the Tories stole Labour’s clothes – Daily Mail
  • Labour hasn’t got a clue – Dan Hodges, Daily Telegraph

MPs to get vote to change fox hunting law

“Ministers will offer MPs a free vote to repeal the ban on traditional fox hunts next Thursday, The Sun can reveal. David Cameron has decided to press ahead with the controversial Tory manifesto promise as soon as possible. But the PM has decided not to call the vote on whether to repeal the whole of the landmark Hunting Act 2004, which would spark months of bitter debate. Instead, Environment Secretary Liz Truss will next week propose to bring fox hunting laws in England and Wales in line with Scotland by relaxing the limit on only two dogs being allowed to chase foxes” – The Sun (£)

Merkel faces rebellion in Berlin over Greek bailout

MERKEL Angela Blue“More than 100 MPs in Angela Merkel’s conservative party group have already written Greece out of the euro, even as its government scrambles to cobble together a plan acceptable to creditors. The size of the rebellion in her own ranks — the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union faction — limits the German chancellor’s ability to soften her position against Greece and all but kills off its hope of a huge debt write-off as part of the new bailout plan it needs to prevent a banking collapse” – The Times (£)

Queen will invite 10,000 to birthday lunch

“Ten thousand people are to be invited to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday next year, with quite possibly the biggest sit-down lunch the country has seen. At an event in the Mall, organised by the company run by the Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips, guests will tuck into picnic hampers at tables stretching from the Queen Victoria Memorial to Horse Guards Road. The Queen, who is said to be excited about the event, will be joined at the party by the Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the royal family, including William and Harry, who are joint presidents of the lunch” – The Times (£)

News in brief

  • Berlusconi found guilty of bribing a senator – Daily Mail
  • Child abuse inquiry judge orders Whitehall not to shred documents – The Times (£)
  • Strikes cause chaos on London Underground and First Great Western – The Times (£)