By Tim Montgomerie
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I supplied ten thoughts on the Autumn Statement yesterday. I don't have much to add today except to point you to two blogs.
THE ECONOMY IS IN MUCH WORSE SHAPE THAN FEARED
In the first blog the BBC's Nick Robinson predicts that today will be "defining". "The Chancellor," he writes, "will have to confirm that the economy is well off course – that growth will be much lower and borrowing much higher than he planned." He continues:
"The sight and sound of George Osborne reading out figures – described as "shocking" by some who've seen them – and the reaction of the House of Commons, will drive home to many people the sheer scale of the economic challenge the country now faces."
The world economy is, of course, in terrible shape and George Osborne will do his best to blame international events and the inheritance from Labour. For the reasons set out by Lord Ashcroft at the weekend and by YouGov's Peter Kellner today all this might not hurt the Tories politically. Until Labour become an economically responsible opposition voters will stick with the Conservatives, almost no matter how bad things get. But there can be no room for economic complacency. Has the Chancellor done everything he can to mitigate things?
IS OSBORNE GOING TO MISS HIS CHANCE TO TURBOCHARGE THE ECONOMY?
A senior minister asked me a question last night: Can you think of any measures in Osborne's Autumn Statement that Gordon Brown couldn't have announced?
I can actually. Chris Grayling's health and safety reforms, for example. But the minister has a point. We appear to be in "the age of Osbrowne" where a government scheme or subsidy is routinely preferred to a tax cut or some deregulation. Look at today's childcare announcement. Government is throwing more money into an already over-regulated and therefore over-priced market. Childcare needs supply-side reform with greater and more diverse provision, as Liz Truss MP has argued.
So my second blog is David Davis' piece for ConHome. The man David Cameron defeated for the Tory leadership sets out an alternative Autumn Statement and one that is much more recognisably free market. Simon Heffer's ten point manifesto in the Daily Mail is also worth a read. I'm not hopeful but perhaps the Chancellor has a few surprises up his sleeve. We will see at 12.30pm.