Peter Hoskin

The coalition’s feel-good factor

The coalition's feel-good factor
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Since last week's Spending Review – and even before – the government has been operating in a toxic news environment. I mean, just consider the three main news stories that have surrounded the cuts. First, the 500,000 public sector job losses. Then, the IFS report and that single, persistent word: "regressive". And today – on the covers of the Independent and the Times – warnings that we could be dipping back into recession. Set alongside that tidal swell, the outpourings of Simon Hughes and the polling companies register as little more than sour footnotes.

Even if the coalition plans to hide some of its better news, there's a clear need for it to push back against the gloom – lest it erode both public and Lib Dem support for they are doing. And so we arrive at today, which features two examples of how the government will manage the next few months of operations.

First up, the one we heard about yesterday: a new emphasis on growth, to be led by a pair of speeches from David Cameron and Vince Cable to the CBI today. But the second is less expected: plans for a simplified state pension which should boost the payment to £140-a-week for all its recipients, but which will particularly benefit married couples and "stay-at-home mums". The proposal will form part of a DWP Green Paper before the end of the year, and will be paid for – it is claimed – by reducing bureaucracy. After the Spending Review, few would have expected so munificent a giveaway, so soon. But now that this one has emerged, perhaps we can expect even more happy tidings in the 61 shopping days until Christmas.