By Tim Montgomerie
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There may be a Leveson effect but the Chancellor will nonetheless be pleased with today's newspaper frontpages and the warm noises made by the country's three biggest centre right newspapers:

  • "Mr Osborne has played a difficult hand with some considerable
    skill. And after Ed Balls’s truly atrocious performance yesterday, the
    Chancellor has proved himself an infinitely safer guardian of our
    nation’s future than  the alternative." – Daily Mail leader
  • The Sun Says:
    "After the disasters of Mr Osborne’s earlier “pasty tax” Budget, this
    was a genuine attempt to be more in tune with ordinary voters. Curbing
    benefits while lifting more of the low-paid out of tax is a welcome step
    towards righting the imbalance between work and welfare."
  • The Autumn Statement strikes a difficult balance between what needs to be done and what the public will accept – The Telegraph

Echoing what I blogged yesterday, George Osborne did just about all he could given the economic restraints he was operating within. What he failed to do is anything significant to change those constraints. This Government has never had a serious growth and confidence agenda. It still doesn't. It's no wonder Fitch are examining whether we deserve to keep our triple-A status. Andrew Lilico on ConHome and also Jeremy Warner in today's Telegraph get to the heart of the matter:

"The compromises of coalition government prevent the kind of radical,
supply-side, tax-cutting agenda that might stand some chance of breaking
the mould. What we seem to have is a kind of “New Labour-lite” approach
to government in which the Treasury constantly shrinks away from what
really needs to be done."

Ed Balls deservedly gets a terrible press this morning. Max Hastings goes for his jugular, noting that his and Labour's economic recipe adds up to poison. The Coalition has not been able to stop Britain becoming a debt-ridden economy and the only serious political alternative would make it worse. It is not a happy situation.

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