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2/10 Tests for the Autumn Statement: Will Osborne fight for the fairness agenda?

By Tim Montgomerie
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This question has two parts.

Part one is whether the Chancellor will deliver help for the little guy. There are encouraging signs. It looks like his tax cut priority will be petrol duty - a tax which falls very heavily on the working poor. He also intends to cap increases in rail fares. He might also act on council tax if he's read Lord Ashcroft's polling and its finding that cost pressures are voters' top economic worry. My own hope is that he'll go further. Will he announce the kind of measures on executive remuneration floated yesterday (£) by Tory MPs Dom Raab and Matt Hancock? Will we see a wealth tax that is used to cut taxes on the working poor? Will we see a review of the Barnett formula so that more money goes to the very poorest parts of the UK, in Wales, the North-East and parts of London - and not Scotland?

Part two is the importance of George Osborne claiming these acts as part of his and the Conservative vision for Britain. The Liberal Democrats are busy claiming that they are the ones responsible for every socially just thing this Coalition does. Nick Clegg used an Observer interview yesterday to stake ownership of other things the Government is doing to help poorer Britons:

"Whether it's on youth unemployment, whether it's on youngsters, whether it's on getting behind advanced manufacturing and not putting all our eggs into the City of London basket, I don't think that would have happened without the coalition."

The greatest political cost of this Coalition may be that the Conservatives get no credit for the compassionate things we would have done if we had governed alone. Osborne needs to find words as well as deeds tomorrow to address this danger.

> Test 3 at noon: Will Osborne deliver action now for growth?


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