An interesting angle on the budget has been provided by James Forsyth in the Spectator. Forsyth portrays George Osborne as a Tory equivalent of Gordon Brown, seeing the budget in terms of political calculation. He believes that whereas Brown created Labour voters by adding to the state payroll, Osborne will add to Conservative vote by making the private sector bigger.
“This is the strategy that underpins Osborne’s first Budget. The headlines were, predictably, about cuts. But this Budget can be seen as Osborne taking charge — in every respect. It is the first dramatic step in his plan for Britain. Osborne’s agenda is distinct from (but by no means hostile to) David Cameron’s. The aim is a majority Conservative government. If the plan succeeds, there’ll be no need to have the Lib Dems in government in five years’ time.”
Later he says:
“The mission, as Mr Osborne sees it, is to shrink the public sector and grow the private sector — the classic goal of the modern British centre-right. The Budget is ambitious on this front. It will reduce the state’s share of the economy to below 40 per cent by the end of this parliament, reversing the rise of the state under Labour. Shirley Letwin argued that the Thatcher government unleashed ‘vigorous virtues’ through its reforms. According to her, Thatcher transformed the country and society by rewarding the strivers and anyone who was serious about self-improvement. This is what Mr Brown eroded, not just by employing 700,000 more voters but by offering low-level welfare to millions.”
Can the battle between Labour and the Conservatives be summed up as simply as that?