Coffee House

How George Osborne took on Ed Miliband on the cost of living

6 December 2012

6:34 PM

6 December 2012

6:34 PM

In addition to his effective attack on Labour’s welfare policy, George Osborne used the Autumn Statement to take on Ed Miliband on another key electoral battleground.

Over the past few months, the Labour leader has been trying to convince voters that he has the solution to their cost of living woes. His biggest offer so far has been the Living Wage, which sounds lovely to voters because it involves them being paid more money, but actually doesn’t work (something Miliband is clearly sufficiently aware of to stop him pledging to make a living wage mandatory). The coalition already had its own offer in the form of the rise in the personal tax allowance announced in March’s budget, but that got little airtime as everyone was upset about pasties and caravans. While Miliband was talking the talk, they were already walking the walk, but voters hadn’t noticed.


So revisiting the tax threshold was an excellent idea yesterday: it reminds voters of what the government has already done, and gives them a little bit more besides.  Taking more households out of tax has a far wider effect than trying to shame some companies into paying higher wages: the government’s policy means more people can keep more of their money, while Miliband’s policy means only those lucky enough to work for companies with healthy balance sheets and generous bosses will benefit.

On top of that, the Chancellor’s rabbit-out-of-the-hat announcement that he was cancelling the 3p rise in fuel duty dealt with another key cost of living issue. Petrol prices don’t just affect drivers: they drive up the cost of food, too, and so this announcement is very effective.

One Tory backbencher I chatted to last night who normally can’t resist slagging off Osborne was thrilled with the fuel duty decision as it appealed directly to their blue collar constituents. Osborne was back in his groove yesterday as Tory strategist, as these two announcements showed.

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Show comments
  • Olaf

    How does cancelling a 3p rise in fuel duty make me better off? At best I’m no worse off. That’s the same as Broons 0% growth statement. Cancelling a rise that hasn’t happened is a 0% benefit to me.

    • Coffeehousewall

      Agree with Olaf. This is all of a piece with the idea that all income belongs to the state. It doesn’t. Not taking away more of my income as planned is not a benefit to me at all. Stopping taking so much would be a benefit.

  • HellforLeather

    May I invite you to publish a list of month-by-month (Jan, Feb, March etc) ANNUAL increases in cost of living since the Coalition took power — versus the BOE inflation target for each respective period.

    How often has this government, co-ordinating policy with the BOE (including on QE), managed to meet the central bank’s designated inflation target? Never?

    As someone who has never voted anyone else but Conservative before, they’re proving destructive when it comes to cost of living. Energy and transport prices especially, way ahead of inflation in most cases.

    • Matthew Whitehouse

      cost of living goes up n up whoever is in gov

  • realfish

    The only problem being that the BBC seem disinclined to report the increase in the tax allowance, nor explain to anyone its impact when set against the 1% uprating of allowances for those working, or the 40% threshold. Not BBC News, not ‘PM’, not ‘Five Live’, not ‘Today’. Wilful deafness?

    • 2trueblue

      No, just Liebores mouthpiece…. which we are force to pay for irrelevant of whether we watch BBC or not.

    • Matthew Whitehouse

      The BBC is a left leaning Biased Corp. which hates the Tory Party.

  • toco10

    Never having had a proper job himself Red Ed doesn’t understand what it means to strive.The fact he was allowed to create havoc with the erratic and dysfunctional Gordon Brown in the disgraced Labour Government was largely the result of his background and family connections.Nepotism is rife within the Labour and Trades Union Movement and connections count for everything within these left wing organisations.

    • HooksLaw

      There are too many isms rife in the labour party, principal of course being socialism.

      • Alefrith

        My principal labour-ism was perfectly portrayed by Sellers in the fifties “I’m Alright Jack – ism”.

      • telemachus

        A good dose of socialism would correct the inequalities in or great country

        • Sarge

          A lower dose of telemachus would reduce the drivel index for this site by about 100%

  • Open_Palm

    Many councils across the UK had already introduced the Living Wage with more to follow. Clearly not as unworkable as Hardman surmised.

    • 2trueblue

      Not unworkable but not universal.

    • John Smith

      If they have any of our money they should return it to the taxpayer who provided it.
      If we wish to give it to anyone else we will decide
      Its always easy to give away other peoples money

    • Sarge

      When you do not have the profits to pay this from, it’s unworkable. How are councils finding the money to pay this? They apparently are struggling with funding shortfalls and cutting essential services. Ah yes council tax increases.

  • pigou_a

    Back in the real world among people who, you know, understand maths, Anthony Wells tells us that Labour’s average poll lead is up to 12pp:

    Heckuva job George!

    • Span Ows

      You mean Heckuva job UK media making Labour’s job easier and not explaining to people, you know, back in the real world among people who, you know, DO NOT understand maths. I’m not asking them to lie just to report fairly, almost none of them do, not sure why; maybe they hate the LibDems so much they don’t mind helping Labour.

  • HooksLaw

    The price of petrol is a key driver of disapproval which shows it to be a funny old commodity considering how much money we waste on cars and then sit and watch them depreciate.
    The government are very wise to not attack it.

    • 2trueblue

      So how does your food get to you and the shops you use?