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George Osborne’s targets, tests and takeaways

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The dial is set – the Long Term Plan vs the Cost of Living challenge. This Autumn Statement has set the scene for Election 2015 – some 18 months before polling day.

With the best economic backdrop the Chancellor has had since he took office, he turned his statement into some of the best political box office for years.

Ever the master political tactician – the Chancellor has decided to ‘target’ voters clearly for 2015. Smaller business owners and older voters [aged over 50] may be cheering announcements on pensions and business rates.

He has set a test – the twitterati are already calling it a ‘trap’ – for Labour. A vote to legislate for budget responsibility will take place in November 2014 – just 6 months before the election. No doubt this particular political essay question will be designed to test Labour’s spending plans hard.

Finally he offered a takeaway. Not a reference to pasty taxes – but a series of fiscal giveaways on fuel duty, National Insurance for the under 21s, school meals and childcare.

His promise on house building more than matches Labour’s current plans – and that may prove to be one of the most significant takeaways of them all. Taking away a keynote policy from Labour’s own prospectus.

With this action packed statement the political narrative is now set for the next 18 months.

Iain Anderson is director at Cicero Group

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