The Frozen Planet mini-Budget

Written by Total Politics has a free weekly Friday email bulletin. Follow this link to register. on 29 November 2011 in News
One is a BBC hit nature show, the other is a hit and miss attempt to balance our books. But our political animals face a harsh winter just like those of the Frozen Planet

"We are going to see Britain through the debt storm," declared chancellor George Osborne in his autumn statement this afternoon.

If you've ever watched Frozen Planet, you know what a real storm looks like: it's cold, uncomfortable and very windy.

Osborne today, like an emperor penguin incubating the egg containing his young on his feet, attempted to wade his way through perilous growth forecast downgrades and structural budget deficits.

Penguin George is cautious. He knows if he drops that egg, the next generation will not survive the cold.

And, boy, does Osborne want to make sure he is the one to rear the next generation.

(He is an 'emperor' penguin after all.)

"Our debt challenge is even greater than we thought because the boom was even bigger, the bust even deeper and the effects will last even longer," he said.

"What we offer is ... a government committed to take Britain safely through the storm.

"Leadership for tough times, that's what we offer."

But what else does penguin George offer to last the winter?

The 3p-a-litre rise in fuel duty in January has been cancelled, and the increase in August has been frozen.

Rail fares will be capped at inflation plus one per cent.

And an extra £1.2bn will be spent on schools in England.

Then there's the bad stuff....

An extra £100bn in borrowing over four years.

Public sector pay rises to be capped.

The economy forecast to grow by 0.9% this year, 0.8% less than the Office for Budgetary Responsibility's predictions in March.

And there will be a rise in unemployment, according to the OBR, from 8.1% to 8.7% in 2011-12.

If Osborne is the aptenodytes forsteri of Antarctica, then Ed Balls is definitely a polar bear.

The shadow chancellor hasn't eaten all winter and he's very growly.

"Growth is flat-lining this year, next year and the year after," he rumbled.

"...Well over £100bn that the chancellor planned a year ago, more borrowing than the chancellor inherited at the last election, and as a result his fiscal strategy is in tatters. Plan A has failed and it has failed colossally.

"The prime minister likes to say, 'You can't borrow your way out of a crisis. That's exactly what the chancellor's been forced to do."

We have been "badly, deeply exposed to a global storm", polar bear Balls added.

They might disagree about most things, but they both agree there's a storm coming.

It's going to be a harsh winter.

Best to make like a Lib Dem and go into hibernation.

PS. Consensus seems to be that there was no 'rabbit in the hat'. Only Arctic hares could survive a Frozen Planet mini-budget anyway.

Tags: Autumn Statement, Ed Balls, Frozen Planet, George Osborne, Penguin

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