By Tim Montgomerie
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In his article for The Sunday Telegraph Lord Ashcroft had some advice for George Osborne on how he should present his Autumn statement. Basically stop the Labour-bashing and don't pretend things are better than they are:
"Swing voters chastised Labour for failing to see the crisis coming and make provision, as well as for spending more than Britain could afford. But even those who felt this said they were fed up with hearing it from the government. If the Chancellor's message this week seems unpalatable, it will at least have the merit of being, for voters, believable. Over-claiming on the economy would not just be unconvincing, it would reinforce persistent perceptions that he and his party are out of touch with life as it is lived by most people."
In terms of presentation I'd also hope for something bigger. This year's Budget was disappointing because it didn't level with voters. Important help for motorists and council taxpayers was put central stage when the core message needed to be economic renewal. Every voter knows times are tough. They want to know if better times lie ahead, when they are likely to arrive and how we will all get there. Up until now the Chancellor hasn't brought policies or a message to the despatch box that match the seriousness of the time. Tomorrow he must deliver both the strategy and the words to convince people that he has a plan for prosperity as well as for deficit reduction. We don't want Tory MPs waving order papers like they did last year when big cuts were announced. We don't want silly catchphrases like the March of the Makers. Like a sick patient, Britain doesn't want platitudes or false hope. The British people want to know they are in the hands of a healing statesman who knows what he's doing and that, however painful in the short-run, things will get better. Osborne is the most political of men but voters don't want politics tomorrow. They want a Chancellor.