Peter Hoskin

Expect more “fine print” on spending soon

Expect more "fine print" on spending soon
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Sifting through this morning's papers, you'd say that it's mission accomplished for George Osborne's speech yesterday. The realigned Sun demonstrates how much it has got behind the Tories, by giving the Shadow Chancellor an absolutely glowing report ("the Shadow Chancellor came of age"). He also receives good-to-medium notices in the Times, the FT and the Independent, while the Guardian is more mixed, but hardly damning. In the Mail, Quentin Letts writes that "Yesterday the Boy became Boss George". And so on and so on.

You can see where they're all coming from.  As I wrote yesterday, there's much that was impressive in Osborne's speech. But there were also some weaknesses on the policy side of things. Allister Heath puts it best in City AM:

"Yesterday’s proposals to trim spending are to be welcomed but amount to at best £7bn a year; yet the budget deficit this year could hit £200bn. Freezing public sector wages for those earning over £18,000 is a brave decision given the election is less than a year away; but it will save just £3.2bn in 2011. It goes no more than 1-2 per cent of the way towards eliminating the structural part of the deficit."

Osborne will need to do much more if the Tories are to win a mandate sufficient to the task awaiting them - and all of the politicos I've spoken to in Manchester recognise that. You can expect the Tories to set out more "fine print" around the time of the Pre-Budget Report.