The commentators 05-12-14
...on the Autumn Statement
George Osborne has perfected the art of preaching sobriety while knocking back the tequila slammers. No one, now, does it better. “I have a plan to reduce the deficit,” he said yesterday, “I’m not going slower” – bold words for a man who is this year borrowing more than double what he first planned. Labour’s plan is “higher borrowing”, he said – in a way that might make you think his involves lower borrowing. In fact, he aims to increase debt by another £200 billion but thinks he’ll get away with it. And he’s probably right.
- Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
For George Osborne the Autumn Statement will prove to be the winter of his discontent. His address on Wednesday was a catalogue of unacknowledged failure. The deficit, which we were told would have been wiped out by now, is still, at £75 billion and 80 per cent of GDP, half there. Borrowing by 2015-16 is forecast to have been, over this parliament, £219 billion more than planned in November 2010. This year’s requirement has been revised up by £4.9 billion and next year’s by £7.6 billion. This is, by any measure, failure.
- Philip Collins, The Times
Obsessing about inheritance – and feeling the need to make populist gestures on it – is a warning light flashing on the dashboard. In a healthy society parents would have the confidence to say, like Sting, that the kids will cope fine on their own; grown-up children would have the confidence not to live off past glories. But we don’t. Instead, families look ahead, shiver, and huddle together against what feels like a hard winter coming. It’s only natural. That doesn’t make it right.
- Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian
The critics are right: the picture of Britain’s future that the Mr Osborne presented is deeply problematic and probably impossible. But it is also shows a relatively keen understanding of the constraints facing the country in a world of subdued global demand and persistent disinflation. I am not sure that every European finance minister can say the same.
- Stephanie Flanders, Financial Times
There is no direct connection between Brown’s retirement and Osborne’s autumn statement except that the two events both took place this week. Yet the coincidence is a dramatic reminder of what happens when the public turns against a government. It happened to Brown in 2010; and now he is gone. The same thing may well happen to Osborne in 2015; and he knows this better than anyone.
- Martin Kettle, The Guardian
The reality is that the British economy, like an impecunious spendthrift, continues to live far beyond its means. The politicians from all the main parties are unwilling to face up to this truth. Driven only by shortterm gain and the determination to protect their careers, they prefer to borrow and bribe voters with their own money rather than put the public finances on a sound footing.
- Leo McKinstrey, Daily Express
A small country with ten national newspapers (a dozen, if you count the FT and Morning Star) might be expected to see its society accurately reflected on the newsstands. So what do we see today? Diversity? Multiculturalism? Do we see that warmth that Paddington was promised?
No, we see rejection, selfishness, triviality. Five papers splash on our terror of immigration; eight carry stories and/or photographs of people fighting to buy a cut-price coffee maker that will sit unused in a cupboard. The only paper to feature neither on the front - The Times - addresses a different kind of consumerism with an oversized cake and the word Eat! in huge letters.
- Editor's blog
Tuesday 25 November The Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards were announced at a breakfast ceremony this morning. David Aaronovitch was named Commentariat of the Year and his newspaper, The Times, won the award for the best comment pages. Stevie Spring, who led the judges, made it a hat-trick for the Times by choosing Melanie Reid for the chairman's award.
The FT, Guardian, Mail and Sunday Times each picked up two awards. SubScribe was also among the winners. You can see the full list of awards here. A video of the presentations will be posted online later.
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