16/03/2016 The Papers


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the winner gallops back to greatness at Cheltenham three years after a


heart problem threatened to end his racing days. That's all in Sportsday


in 15 minutes, after the papers. Hello and welcome to our look ahead


to what the papers will be bringing With me are Isabel Hardman,


assistant editor of the Spectator, and Ben Chu, economics editor


of the Independent. Tomorrow's front pages, the FT says


that George Osborne attempted to sweeten bleak economic news


in a "safety-first" Budget. Osborne


sugars the pill is the Daily Telegraph's take, as it reports that


Britain will become one of the first


countries in the world to introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks.


The Independent says that


the tax did not hide the ?55 billion hole


in the public finances. The i reports that Jeremy Corbyn lashed


out at "six years of failures and unfairness


in his Budget response. A sweet and sour Budget


is Metro's verdict. The Daily Express says there was


outrage from Brexit campaigners over what it


calls a pro-EU Budget. The sugar tax formed part


of a budget that raided big business to fund giveaways


for middle-class workers and savers, the Daily Mail calls the budget


George's Awesome Gamble. This is the eye-catching


announcement of the Budget. It is a controversial measure but it is


clearly what he wanted to be on the front pages because it knocks off


some of the more sour bits of news which were in the Budget today. It


is also another way for him to suggest he has a kind of moral


mission as a politician, he wants to help the next generation and look


his children's generation in the eye. And the Sun don't seem


massively keen on it in their coverage. I do like their front


page, not necessarily because I agree with their criticism of the


sugar tax but they have the metaphor right. A lot of papers are saying a


spoonful of sugar from the Chancellor, when actually he is


taking away the sugar, which is what they eat mean with their mockup of


Dizzee Rascal. They have captured the essence of what he tried to do


well although they disagree with it. This will raise about ?500 million a


year at its peak, according to the Treasury's forecasters. It is not


that material in the scheme of things, in the scheme of these big


deficits which have opened up as a result of these latest forecasts and


yet all the papers are leading with it so quite a good result for the


Chancellor in that respect. People say it has been tried elsewhere and


hasn't worked. It is interesting because it was introduced in Mexico


and campaigners on both is sides save either didn't or did work and


there seemed to be all sorts of bits of evidence that support their


thesis. I suppose it is one of those things that if it works it is a good


thing, I am slightly ambivalent towards it if it works. But it


depends what it means by worked, it won't solve childhood obesity. You


can't test whether it works in reducing childhood obesity for some


time in the future. And it is not the only fact. -- factor. The


question of what the consumption of sugar would have been in the absence


of this tax is difficult to prove one way or another. That is why you


get these disagreements about what is happening in Mexico. Moving on to


the Daily Mail's coverage, again we have the Chancellor dressed up as


Dizzee Rascal on the Sun, I'm not sure who he is dressed as here. Is


that some film reference we have missed out on? He is sort of wearing


a dark bowtie and a velvet looking jacket and is obviously in a casino,


he has put his chips on... Well, he has his chips ready to play. They


seem to like the Budget, the Daily Mail, they say it is great for


Middle England, helping savers, small businesses. The big issue for


them is taking people out of the 40p rate of tax they have been


campaigning for but what they want to draw attention to is the


optimistic looking sons, which is an interesting line for the Daily Mail


to take given it doesn't really play into any of their big concerns --


interesting looking sums. They are right in the sense that the surplus


which the Chancellor now has pencilled in for 2019/20 which is


what he needs to meet his very, very inflexible fiscal mandate is only


achieved I unspecified spending cuts and a bit of jiggery-pokery at the


accountancy when he measures tax. And if the economy deteriorates a


bit further, which it might well do, that could be blown away further.


They are right that it is optimistic to believe he will necessarily get


that surplus at the end of the decade. I thought the strangest


thing about the Budget was that having talked about how terrible it


was going to be and how many cuts he was going to make, he referred to


them in a single paragraph, saying I have asked my colleagues to find


?3.5 billion. Why would he not set out the detail? Perhaps he hopes he


will never have to make those cuts and by the next Budget the money


which has been found in the back of the sofa will have changed again.


?3.5 billion is a significant sum, and it is from departments that have


had to cut significantly already, presumably when you start cutting


you do the easy bits and it gets harder and harder as you go on. And


people start briefing against you, which if you are George Osborne and


want to be Conservative leader is not convenient. It is really the


worst of all Treasury fudges, it will come from an efficiency review


which won't report until 2018 so really kicked into the long grass.


And no one believes these are efficiency savings, they are the


fallback of chancellors who are in a tight spot. They pluck them out of


the air and hope that people don't notice it. But they have noticed it,


and it is one of the reasons that the Daily Mail thinks it is a


gamble. And the Daily Mail doesn't like the sugar tax either, swingeing


suggests they are not keen. Getting into the politics of the Budget


speech, the element where George Osborne referred to the Office of


Budget Responsibility and what it said about EU membership. This was a


very risky passage in his speech. He quoted the Office of Budget


Responsibility Orr said he was quoting their warnings about the


uncertainty and damage to the economy that leaving the EU would


cause -- or said. They said they did want to make a judgement on this,


and actually it seems that George Osborne had actually overeat their


analysis of Brexit. To link the Budget with the EU referendum in


anyway was always going to be difficult because of the number of


Conservative back benches who are campaigning to leave but to do it in


what the Express and the Telegraph are at furious about the pro- EU


Budget. It is quite a dangerous game he is playing given that he doesn't


really want the Conservative Party to split over Europe, and also


doesn't want to cause Tory backbenchers to dislike him either,


because he is trying to woo them at the same time. And puzzling as well


because clearly he will have known that they will have gone through the


full text and worked out whether he is being entirely honest. It is hard


to know what his calculation is because often he will put things in


a speech knowing that the sympathetic press will make a speech


knowing that the sympathetic press will was never going to happen with


something like OBR warning about Brexit because so much of the press


is pro- Brexit Orleans very heavily to that sceptical case. It was


always likely that they were going to do dig into it and rubbish it and


that is what they have done. Ordinary people don't listen to the


full Budget speech, they either get a little clip on the news or they


get it through the papers. So it is hard to see what... How he could


have thought that it would do anything but just antagonise people


and antagonise the media by doing what he did, which was spinning it


quite misleadingly. My understanding is they made reference to the


short-term uncertainty that Brexit would cause but won't taking a view


on the longer term. No, they certainly won't recommending one


position or another -- they certainly won't recommending. They


think their party is getting very upset about their members


campaigning quite vigorously to keep written in the EU because David


Cameron and ministers think it is the best way. There is a frustration


that Conservative MPs would get that annoyed, that actually the


government would try to campaign properly rather than being


lacklustre and saying you can take it or leave it. Of course they are


going to campaign hard, these ministers say but you can understand


why George Osborne would want to be a bit careful. Take us to the front


of the Guardian. Not the main coverage where Osborne's credibility


gap is their big headline but the other story. Magical thinking was


the same, but the audience failed to suspend disbelief, I think


reflecting a lot of the coverage of an reaction to the Budget speech in


the sense that some of the Magic has worn off George Osborne. Interesting


looking at the Daily Mail earlier, this time last year, or a bit later,


in the post election emergency Budget, post- election Budget that


you had, he got some fantastic coverage not least from the Daily


Mail saying that he had slain the Dragon of the left. A very different


message as we have just seen today, taking a big gamble, and I think


that is reflected in a lot of coverage. The chancellor who


destroyed the political scene like a colossus only a year ago now seems a


much more diminished figure, a lot more... A lot of it is because of


Brexit, because people don't like the stance he has taken in the


media. A lot of it is because the shine has come off the economy and


there are all these storm clouds, and perhaps he has not done such a


fantastic job on that front. And then there was the tax credit


debacle. All these add together to make his political stock not as high


as it was relatively recently. Now is not the worst time for him to be


encountering some scepticism given the leadership contest isn't


tomorrow. It is much better for him to have the opportunity to counter


the worries that Conservative MPs really do have about him. Boris


Johnson is almost in a worse position because he still has to


prove himself in a serious government job and that is the worry


that MPs have about him. He has much less time in which to do that.


George Osborne knows what his weaknesses are and you can see him


trying to do that in his Budget on social justice, education reform,


trying to attack his critics who say he is being unfair to people on


disability benefits. He knows what his weaknesses and he has time to


try and address them. And it went through the Budget like a rock, this


next generation. He was talking about the sugar tax as very much


young children's obesity crisis, and it kept coming up coming up. To be


honest I'm not sure the reality matches with the rhetoric. We were


just talking earlier about the things he is doing on housing


which... The demand side, increasing the ability of people to get


mortgages and houses, unless you will have a complete revolution on


the supply side by building more of the things, anything you do on the


demand side will push up prices, which will hurt young people the


most. There are many other elements like that which don't match up, it


will be interesting to see how this message about caring about the Next


Generation really cuts through. He does push much harder in government


to get homes built than many of his colleagues, but it is really


difficult when you have lots of Conservative councils and members


who are very opposed to further housebuilding, to be able to do


that. Because you don't want to upset the people living in your


local parish who are not going to want it next door to them. Taking us


finally to the FT, not so much their main coverage but a sketch. It is a


wonderful sketch about George Osborne saying the word oops in his


Budget and admitting things haven't worked out as intended over the last


few months. He defines oops over an entire paragraph in George


Osborne's speech. The paragraph includes the word paradoxical. This


combination of our revision to nominal GDP produced by global


inflation have produced this paradoxical result. What he means by


that is oops, but he also means he is not going to hit one of his main


targets which is to have debt falling as a share of GDP in the


year 2015/16 which is a bit of a oops in other ways because why is it


so important in that single year to have debt falling by a fractional


amount? And this is one of the criticisms that many economists have


a of it, which is why did you hem yourself in like that? Why it be so


economically rigid? On the word oops we are going to draw things to a


close. Thank you to our guests. Coming up next it is time for


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