What an odd coincidence that on the eve of what's being billed as a major economic speech by Ed Miliband, George Osborne sticks up his periscope and makes a big fat announcement on the minimum wage. The Chancellor and his colleagues have been mulling this increase for months, and have been making confusing but supportive noises over the past few weeks, and this evening would have seemed an odd time for the Chancellor to give an interview to the BBC on the subject if Osborne weren't famed for being such an enthusiastic strategist. He told Nick Robinson that Britain could afford an above-inflation increase in the minimum wage:
'The exact figure has to be set by the Low Pay Commission which talks to business, talks to other bodies in our economy, but if, for example, the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, it would be £7 by 2015-16 – it’s £6.31 at the moment – so that’s an increase. I think we can see an above-inflation increase in the minimum wage, do it in a way that actually supports our economy precisely because the economy is recovering and many, many jobs are being created.'