George Osborne and David Cameron have just addressed the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers. They received the traditional desk banging reception and Tory MPs seemed in good spirits as they left the meeting. Interestingly, they were nearly all relaxed about the increase in the personal allowance, believing that they would get the credit just as much — if not more than — the Liberal Democrats. One told me that ‘the public view this as a Conservative government when things are going well and a coalition one when things are going badly’.
Perhaps the biggest piece of news out of the meeting is that Osborne offered Tory MPs considerable encouragement that the 45p rate will not become a permanent feature of the tax system. He also offered a typically feisty defence of the suspension of the Sunday trading rules for the Olympics, saying ‘I don’t remember the line from Leviticus that says you can work in an off licence on a Sunday but not a supermarket’.
Cameron, for his part, urged the MPs to campaign on this ‘bold, game-changing Budget’. He also warned them against falling victim to governmentitis and starting to ‘sound like technocracts’.