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Budget 2013: It’s all about the ‘aspiration nation’

20 March 2013

2:41 PM

20 March 2013

2:41 PM

So did he do it? This was a budget with a strong narrative about the ‘aspiration nation’, and the Chancellor certainly did everything he could to nod to two of those three groups that James identified last week. He had two distinct sections on making Britain competitive in the global race and tackling the cost of living, while dismissing ‘those who would want to cut much more than we are planning to – and chase the debt target’.

The cost of living section was a careful attempt to please Sun readers who had been so irritated by last year’s Budget. And Osborne also took care to spell out the tangible benefits of scrapping the fuel duty increase and the beer duty escalator. He said:

‘Today, I am cancelling this September’s fuel duty increase altogether. Petrol will now be 13 pence per litre cheaper than if we had not acted over these last two years to freeze fuel duty. For  Vauxhall Astra or a Ford Focus that’s £7 less every time you fill up.’


And he made the point that though the beer and fuel measures wouldn’t ‘transform’ family budgets, ‘it helps a little to have some bills that aren’t going up’. It’s just as important for families to feel that the government is on their side and that their standards of living aren’t deteriorating as it is for OBR forecasts to go Osborne’s way.

And on competitiveness, Tory backbenchers seem blown away by the Employment Allowance, which takes the first £2,000 off the employer National Insurance bill for small businesses.

One other significant pattern during the statement was Osborne’s continual efforts to praise backbench MPs who have been campaigning on specific issues, and outlining how he was responding to their campaign. Priti Patel, Bob Blackman, and Robert Halfon as well as Lib Dem Alan Reid and Labour’s Tristram Hunt all got a mention. Those individual backbenchers beamed with pride. Tristram Hunt fanned himself with his Order Paper when Osborne announced he was exempting the ceramic industry and others from the climate change levy. But the overall intention was clear: to show MPs that Osborne listens to backbenchers when they come to him with ideas. It counters the narrative of the inner circle.

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls were making quite a fuss about the Standard breaking its Budget embargo. But the newspaper’s editor Sarah Sands has already apologised and is writing to the Speaker with an apology too. So in the end when Miliband stood up, he told Osborne he’d expect him to investigate what happened, rather than calling for heads to roll. The rest of his speech seemed to be a repeat of the response to the 2012 Budget and Ed Balls’ 2012 Autumn Statement response, focusing as much on the 50p tax rate as it did on anything else.

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  • Nkaplan

    Osborne’s statement that “for Vauxhall Astra or a Ford Focus that’s £7 less every time you fill up” is almost startlingly dishonest and the kind of thing one would expect to hear from a socialist rather than a supposedly conservative chancellor. Is he really incapable of understanding that it is not £7 less, but rather it is only not £7 more? He may as well have said everyone will save £100 every time they fill up the car as, had he been really greedy, he could have decided to impose a £100 levy of filling up, but in his generosity has saved everyone £100 by not doing so. It never fails to amaze me that people fall for this garbage and look upon what is a complete failure actual to do anything as some kind of positive and beneficial action.

  • Shivanee Brigham

    Britain is not in any way aspirational. Reducing the price of a pint aspirational? UK society is plagued by the politics of envy and greed, as demonstrated by the uproar on the child care announcement. People want and want but don’t seek to achieve or be self-sufficient.The establishment (inc. press and ‘think’ tanks) have no backbone to tell the masses that it is not their entitlement to expect a low paid, low qualified job and go on throughout life with state top-ups/hand-outs. We are in ‘austerity’ yet there are continuous handouts left, right and centre every week. Everyone knows that the country cannot afford to live like this, but they don’t care because ‘they are entitled’ to their slice of the welfare pie.

    Anyhow, younger people will foot the bill for everyone’s entitlements:- the pensioners’ care so they don’t sell their homes (!); those who didn’t save; those who chose/choose not to work; those who couldn’t be bothered to study/train (despite generous subsidies) and are stuck in low paid employment; those who gorged too many doughnuts and smoked their way into free medical treatment, and so on.

    Supporting all these groups, as well as paying off their own debts for daring to educate themselves to progress; paying astronomical rents to well-off pensioner landlords; oh and attempting to save any pennies left in the hope of eventually
    owning their home and starting a family, and planning their own non-means tested retirement fund.

    But dare they aspire to succeed and earn enough money so not to be classed as of the ‘needy’ groups above who are ‘left behind?’

    The politics of envy is making Britain an ugly dreary society where success must be punished immediately. Earners who fall into the precariously low ‘higher tax rate’ are branded as dishonest as they ‘keep on getting away with it.’ New immigrants are castigated for picking up jobs that others don’t want (nothing has changed from the
    Fifties!). Londoners are all lazy millionaires living off acres of money trees….etc etc.

    But all of the blame lies with the bankers………..

    So this budget is for ‘aspirational Britain’?

  • Terry Field

    Have you seen the projections for cumulative debt in 5 years time?
    Do you attribute this disaster to a government of about 2 years in office?

  • monty61

    Utterly bizarre that Osborne should address the issue of unaffordable housing by taking measures to pump up the price of housing by returning to the sub-prime deposit levels that led to the banking collapse in the first place.

    What happens when interest rates go up?

    Market tinkering by governments is ALWAYS always doomed to failure anyway. Far better to remove support, let prices fall (which would rapidly release all those buy to let properties that would be Rachmans bought on leverage in their hundreds of thousands) and reignite the ‘property owning democracy’ much talked about but which is seemingly passing into history. Another plank of this would be removing tax subsidies from landlords to level the playing field.

    More idiocy from a desperate player who seemed today to be tacitly admitting he hasn’t a clue what to do next.

    • itdoesntaddup

      It’s insane. Doesn’t he understand that affordable housing requires lower prices?

  • HookesLaw

    It would be nice to exempt the entire nation from the climate change levy – its a good reason to put a solely conservative govt into power in 2015.
    However when you see the insidious lies and deceit from the warmists it hard for a govt to fly in the face of such well funded and self interested propaganda.

    • itdoesntaddup

      The Climate Change Levy is small beer in the general run of energy taxation and forced investment in uneconomic energy with forced writing off of economic sources of energy.

  • Chris lancashire

    Miliband’s schoolboy response was dishonest in the extreme. Labour had a 40p top tax rate for 12.5 out of 13 years in power. Now it’s 45p (and that’s about 7p too high).

    • HookesLaw

      Miliband dishonest? I’m shocked I tell you shocked.

    • George_Arseborne

      #Downgraded Chancellor Osborne could only help millionaires by giving them tax break. Zero aspirstion. Downgraded budget from a downgraded Chancellor in a downgraded Government

      • Chris lancashire

        That’s it George, stick to the party line. Don’t think for yourself.