At their autumn conference, the Tories managed to get the last word in on the cost of living debate by explaining that you can’t just talk about living standards while not having a proper plan for the economy. This was all very well and good and the party leadership was confident that this was an easy sell to voters who already trust them more on the economy and continue to blame Labour.
But many were worried that without the sort of retail offer that Labour had made at its conference, the Tories still wouldn’t cut through. George Osborne’s fuel duty freeze announcement in his speech was the start of what will now be a drip-drip of cost of living measures in the run-up to the autumn statement.
The next one came out today, just in time for the first Prime Minister’s Questions back in Westminster. It is a 6.1 per cent cap on increases to regulated rail fares – rail companies will be prevented from adding more than 2 per cent to individual fares, rather than 5 per cent in some cases so long as the average is 1 per cent about RPI inflation – which Labour says is far less impressive than its own pledge to keep fare rises to within 1 per cent of inflation. Of course an opposition party can pledge more impressive things: the task for ministers is to make it clear that they are being realistic with their offer, which will require some hard graft.Tags: Cost of living, George Osborne, train fares, Transport, UK politics