Good morning. One day cock of the walk, and next a featherduster? The feelgood factor around the Autumn Statement in yesterday’s papers has turned somewhat sour.
“Osborne rattled by figures that expose plans for ‘colossal’ cuts” is the Guardian’s splash; “Osborne plan hides ‘colossal cuts’ ahead” the Scotsman’s. . “Osborne accused of creating ‘black hole” is the headline in our Business section and “Five years of cuts: It will be grotesque, warns think tank” is our take on the IFS estimates of the scale of fiscal retrenchment required if George Osborne’s spending targets are to be met.
Elsewhere, the row between the Conservatives and the BBC has turned acrimonious. “Tories at war with ‘biased BBC'” is our splash. “Tories Go To War With BBC Over Cuts” is the Mail’s. “Anyone who has to explain politics and make it interesting at that time of the morning is entitled to a little licence,” argues Andrew Sparrow over at the Guardian. (Or a handfluff of typos, say I.)
It has to be seen in “the wider context of BBC bias” our leader argues. “The licence fee is the same price for people of all political persuasions who wish to watch television – so it is appalling that the coverage they are compelled to finance should be so blatantly biased”.
The row will rumble on and will doubtless colour relations between the Corporation and the Conservatives both in the run-in and after the election. But it’s the Indy and the i that should really worry Downing Street and the Treasury. “Revealed: Osborne’s debt time bomb” is the Indy’s splash, and “Credit Card Nation” leads the i. The OBR’s reports reveal that an unprecedented level of personal debt underpin the deficit reduction plans. Even assuming a far looser level of deficit reduction than that outlined at the moment, we know that household debt and government borrowing are high and getting higher. As Fraser Nelson notes in his column, the era of low interest rates could extend for decades – and we simply don’t know what the consequences of that will be.
THE MAGNIFICENT 0.7
The House will vote on legislation to enshrine the 0.7% target into law today. It’s feared that Conservative backbenchers who are hostile to the law will talk out the Bill with a series of spurious amendments, Matt Holehouse reports. Among the amendments: that contributions to the EU budget and the welfare bill be counted as foreign aid. Labour say they will require the presence of at least 50 Coalition MPs in order to muster the 100-vote quorum necessary to break a filibuster on the law.
Nick Clegg’s absence from the Autumn Statement will hurt the Liberal Democrats, Jeremy Browne told a TPA-IEA fringe. “We should not run away from our record, because we will not get the credit and continue to get the blame,” Mr Browne said. We need to be “unambiguously associated with the Government that we are members of”, he continued. Georgia Graham has the story.
The inquiry into the handling of allegations of child sexual abuse is “not fit for purpose” a group of 24 child abuse victims and professionals have said in a letter seen by Jack Blanchard in the Mirror. Theresa May insists that the “once-in-a-lifetime” probe will continue as planned.
FANCY A THREEWAY?
Ukip have held the council ward of Aveley & Uplands in the Conservative-held constituency of Thurrock, which is shaping up to be a genuine three-way fight between Ukip’s Tim Aker, Labour’s Polly Billington and the incumbent, Jackie Doyle-Price. The Conservatives had come under fire for leaflets using Mr Aker’s full Turkish name of Timür Aker on leaflets.
JUMPING THE SHARK
I’ve been enjoying listening to “Polling Matters”, the podcast about – you guessed it – polling with pollster Keiran Pedley and Leo Barasi. Episodes so far have discussed the Green surge, the difficulties of polling Ukip, and the consequences – or lack thereof – of Ed Miliband’s personal ratings on Labour’s standing. I was the guest this week as we discussed the rise of marginal polling and its use to political debate. You can listen to all the episodes here.
Rising Labour stars Lisa Nandy and Rachel Reeves have both announced that are expecting children in April (Ms Nandy’s first) and June (Ms Reeves’ second). It’s a disaster for Ed Miliband, says Dan Hodges. (Not really. It’s the Liberal leader in Dan’s sights this morning.)
Jeremy Thorpe, the Liberal leader largely remembered for the scandal that ended his career, has died. Tim Stanley plays tribute here, and you can read his obituary here. Upon losing his seat in the 1979 election, Mr Thorpe quipped that the allegations against him had “hardly helped” his campaign, but it’s helped the Liberals keep some perspective in tough times. “At least no-one’s shot a dog yet,” one Liberal MP quipped during the last days of Charlie Kennedy’s leadership.