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Newslinks for Wednesday 21st March 2012

7pm WATCH:

OP2

6.30pm ToryDiary: George Osborne is still eating far too much of the pie

4.45pm ThinkTankCentral: Think tanks give mixed reaction to Budget

2.45pm WATCH:

2pm ToryDiary: The chart that proves Ed Miliband is WRONG about this Budget. The Budget hits the wealthy most.

OPEN BLOG ON PMQs AND BUDGET

Noon ConHomeUSA newslinks: Romney wins big in Illinois

Osborne robin_hood 110.45am ToryDiary: A Conservative (not a Liberal Democrat) Chancellor will announce a tax cut for millions

ToryDiary: There is too much talk of tax rises. Too little focus to date on spending cuts. Let's hope this budget doesn't take the path to taxes and decline.

Columnist Jill Kirby: Instead of improving our towns and cities, the Government is choosing to spoil our countryside

Jake Berry MP on Comment: The Speaker does not need a taxpayer-funded mansion

Martin Callanan MEP, Chairman of the European Conservatives: Greece's partial default will buy some time, but a second bailout will not be enough to save it

Truss LizMPsETC: What is the Free Enterprise Group? Matthew Barrett profiles the most influential new gathering of Tory MPs

LeftWatch: Despite what Andy Burnham MP and the Mirror say, the principles of the NHS are still very much alive

Local government: Councillor accused of changing name to be higher up the alphabet

ConHomeUSA: Viral ad mocks GOP frontrunner's authenticity: Will The Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up?

Osborne will hand 23 million lower and middle-income earners a tax cut today partly paid for by a raid on the super-rich - Times (£)

FPs

  • Two million people will be lifted out of income tax - Daily Mail
  • "George Osborne is set to announce a significant further increase in personal tax allowances in Wednesday's Budget, the BBC understands. The threshold at which anyone pays income tax is set to increase to £9,205, benefiting millions of people."
  • "In a victory for the Liberal Democrats, who have reluctantly accepted abolition of the 50p top rate of tax, the chancellor will announce in the budget that stamp duty is to be raised from 5% to 7% on properties worth more than £2m." - The Guardian
  • Allister Heath at City AM is unimpressed with the 7% stamp duty, calling it "shockingly high" and "quite unjustifiable".

50PGeorge Osborne decided it was "now or never' on 50p - Andrew Grice in The Independent tells the inside story of the abolition of Gordon Brown's job-destroying tax

Sam Coates in The Times (£): "In November, and again this month, the Chancellor appeared at the weekly 1922 committee and mounted a passionate — for him — defence of the 50p rate of tax. Such is the pain being endured by the rest of the country, he told them, that this is not the year to cut taxes on those earning in excess of £150,000. Yet today the Chancellor will mount an equally passionate argument in favour of the removal of the 50p rate of tax."

"The Chancellor wants Britain to have the most competitive corporate tax regime of any major country and he will also send out what he believes is a strong signal to overseas investors by axeing the 50p top rate of income tax, introduced in 2009 as a “temporary” measure." - FT (£)

  • Miliband won't vow to reverse tax cut for rich - Independent
  • Ed Balls "needs replacing at the very latest by yesterday" - Matthew Norman in The Independent

77% of voters want fuel duty cut - The Sun

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Lower fuel duty is number one priority of Conservative members

The child benefit issue will be the big Budget story for several traditionally Tory supporting papers - James Forsyth in The Spectator

  • Chancellor must scrap Child Benefit plans that create 7,000% marginal tax rate - Ian Cowie in The Telegraph
  • Express leader: "There must be a better deal for people who pay the 40p rate as well because the threshold at which it kicks in is far too modest. Mr Osborne should pay for these measures not by new stealth taxes such as raids on pension contributions but by finding further savings in the bloated public sector in general and the obscene benefits bill in particular."

George Parker in the FT (£): "In the final analysis, Mr Osborne believes his package of top end tax cuts and support for business will mark the Budget out as distinctively Tory; Mr Clegg hopes the “Robin Hood” claim will resonate; Labour will focus on the abolition of the 50p rate as evidence the government is “out of touch”."

"Cameron and Osborne are big government men to their cores. In the case of infrastructure projects they have become putty in the hands of the construction lobbies. They now promise high-speed railways, airport runways, pseudo-privatised motorways, wind turbines, nuclear power stations and ecotowns galore." - Simon Jenkins in The Guardian

Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways: Whatever the Chancellor says, Britain is not open for business - The Telegraph

GROWTH

The Times (£) says "we have heard enough about austerity" and calls for more action on growth.

The Sun: "The Government must get its priorities right. A year ago it promised a "Budget for growth". What we got was a lot of tinkering but not much growth."

The Daily Mail: "This country is crying out for a Budget for national survival. That means real cuts in spending, real cuts in business taxes, real cuts in red tape. With time ticking away for our ability to compete, politics-as-usual just won’t do."

  • Ending national pay bargaining is a good idea, but can Osborne deliver? - Neil O'Brien for The Telegraph
  • Changes to the tax code should be driven by the broader theme of simplification - Chas Roy-Chowdury for City AM
  • Red Tape UK: How the Coalition is choking our businesses - James Slack for the Daily Mail

Must read from Daniel Finkelstein: Deeper, tougher spending cuts are coming

FINKELSTEIN DANIEL"The Government is going to have another full round of spending cuts that is as severe as the one it has already imposed. Indeed more severe, because the coalition has picked the low-hanging fruit. Last time around, for instance, they could move from using one set of price indicators to upgrade benefits to using another lower one and save a fortune. But next time? For many departments, a full new round of cuts will require a fundamental reappraisal of the scope of the services they are able to provide. This — and not this Budget or any subsequent Budget — will be the Chancellor’s most important statement of recent times." - Daniel Finkelstein in The Times (£)

Is the power of the Treasury changing George Osborne? - James Kirkup in The Telegraph

NHS reforms approved by Parliament - London Evening Standard

Manchester and other cities could "earn back" tax revenues from Treasury if they boost growth - FT (£)

Tories failing to curb town hall snoops after they back track on plans to scrap 'intrusive' powers - Daily Mail

Johnson Boris Red BackgroundBoris Johnson under fire for turning @MayorOfLondon Twitter account to @BorisJohnson - BBC

"Boris Johnson was forced into a climbdown on the first day of the official election campaign after he agreed to stop using the mayoral Twitter account for his re-election campaign" - Guardian

> Yesterday's Poll: Boris opens up 8% lead

Differing signals from opinion polls with ICM giving Tories a 3% lead, MORI putting Labour 1% ahead BUT YouGov giving Labour an 8% advantage - UK Polling Report

  • Trust in politicians to "see country through this difficult economic situation": Cameron 36%, Osborne 25%, Clegg 18%, Miliband 16% - ComRes

Libya can make a lasting success of its new-found freedom - David Davis and Ibrahim El Mayet in The Guardian

Cameron looks ratty as Speaker hijacks the Queen's Jubilee address to waffle on about gay rights - Daily Mail

And finally... Obama joked that he had “tucked up” David Cameron in the presidential bed after offering him a chance to rest on Air Force One - Express | Daily Mail

Samantha Cameron needed reassuring she is “brilliant” in public and “looks amazing” after struggling under the intense spotlight of her first official visit abroad, the Prime Minister has said - Telegraph

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