In the Lobby, there’s been a broad consensus that pensioners are the big winners of the day. Tim Shipman, Deputy Political Editor at the Daily Mail, comments that “you can tell there’s an election a year away”: pensioners have already been pampered compared to workers by this Government, however now they’re getting even more. Times Deputy Political Editor Sam Coates claims that “this could be called the Steve Webb budget”, noting that the Liberal Democrat minister has got some big wins for his party in overhauling the pension system, which was also echoed by The Guardian’s Political Editor Patrick Wintour.
Reporting for the BBC, Nick Robinson reflects on the populist measures in the Budget, listing: “penny off a pint of beer, bingo tax halved, duty on Scotch whisky and cider frozen”. He also alluded to the political gamesmanship in Osborne’s speech, which included digs at Miliband, Ed Balls and the SNP.
Robinson suggests looking out to see how Labour responds to the pension reform announcements given that Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions, Rachel Reeves, had only recently promised to fix the “broken pension market”. Wintour also pointed to a potential banana skin for Labour in next week’s Commons vote on a permanent welfare cap, which he refers to as a trap door for the Opposition.
The Spectator’s Isabel Hardman reflected that Miliband spent a lot of time not talking about the Budget however gave credit in his attack line that the Tories are run by a tight clique of Etonians. She added that “Tories are fools for behaving as they have”.
Lionel Barber, the Financial Times Editor, summed up the mood for his paper, claiming that it was a “confident political budget targeting the grey vote, savers, old strivers and ‘Tory-UKippers’”. Coates reflected that the Budgets “divides starkly between pre and post-election” and suggests that this could become known as the “Fine Print Budget”.
Meanwhile, true to the political game, Paul Waugh tweeted that the Treasury failed to give Labour a customary advance copy of the sacred document, which is normally received at noon.