Chancellor is pressing UKIP's buttons

 
George Osborne delivers his Budget

George Osborne has been on a diet. It's clear from the suit jacket hanging off him that he's successfully lost weight, and his smile delivering the budget speech was the broadest indication that he really believes the austerity diet that he's put the country through is working too.

As ever with Mr Osborne he wasn't content just to reel off the figures detailing the economic recovery, he wanted to press a few political buttons.

So we got the initiatives for savers, a national Pensioners Bond delivering 4% interest, more flexibility for people choosing annuities and the new NISA ISAs.

Pensions expert Roz Altman took to Twitter to declare that Christmas had come early. She had got all she had ever asked for in one go.

Sharing a pint

But the biggest political button that the chancellor is pushing is a big purple one labelled UKIP.

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UKIP's appeal is still strongly towards an older age group, and often those with some cash to spare”

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The NISA ISA allows someone thinking about retirement with a spare £15,000 each year to get a decent tax break. Someone just like Nigel Farage and his growing band of supporters.

The South of England has a more elderly population than the country as a whole, and more middle and higher earners, often UKIP supporters.

Those earning less than £10,000 a year do not benefit at all from increasing the income tax allowance. There are up to 20% of people in that position in Northern regions, but with the high cost of living in London and the South there are less than 15%.

Though the Eastleigh by-election undoubtedly demonstrated that UKIP can draw in voters who've supported all parties in the past, and many who wouldn't have voted at all, it seems to me their appeal is still strongly towards an older age group, and often those with some cash to spare.

Those are the people you see out campaigning for the party in the south of England and talking up their chances in the pub.

Serious threat

If George Osborne was sharing a pint with Nigel Farage better pensions are just the sort of policy he'd suggest to catch his interest.

Assuming the chancellor wasn't on one of the fasting days of his 5:2 diet he might make the same pitch to the former Conservative MP, now UKIP deputy chairman, Neil Hamilton, or even the MEP Marta Andraesen who was elected for UKIP but who has now joined the Conservatives.

So whilst money to repair potholes and sea defences will decorate the budget cake, and the Liberal Democrats can celebrate success at raising income tax thresholds, the jam in the middle is a splodgy great dollop of purple to attract those voters who might be tempted to send the Conservatives a protest message in the local and European elections in May.

It shows how seriously Conservatives are taking that threat.

 
Peter Henley, Political editor, South of England Article written by Peter Henley Peter Henley Political editor, South of England

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 18.

    17. ciconia
    "Oh dear, you do live in a deep well of misery, don't you?"

    ==

    What are you on about? I've achieved financial independence and fluency in a few languages, and so I'll do all I can to prevent those who seek to rob me of the full freedom to enjoy those, i.e. UKIP and the Tories, from doing so.

    I also enjoy a good laugh at the expense of those so tribally enslaved as I list below.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 17.

    16. TJHW
    Oh dear, you do live in a deep well of misery, don't you?
    Sure, you can find the stereotypes you mention, but participation isn't mandatory. As one who has enjoyed living and working abroad, Europe & elsewhere, and moved around a bit, I'm staying here.
    And, by the way, I was brought up on what is still a sink estate.
    Life's what you make it.
    Whining won't achieve anything.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 16.

    13. ciconia
    "we have a culture which is proving hard to destroy"

    ==

    What's that, then? Cleaning the car on Sunday, and saving 10% of the NMW for the time? Being drunk and throwing up in public? Not wearing hats, whether it's blazing sun or driving rain? Standing up and blocking the bar in pubs, when one of the only few in there? Eating awful muck food, just to teach the "nanny state" a lesson?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 15.

    I don't accept the premise that UKIP voters are likely to be well off. Certainly the less old element comprises a fair number of no-hopers, who are looking for someone to blame for their failures. For the old who have already bought a poor deal annuity, his budget does little.

    Bribery is the wrong approach anyway. Expose the rubbish spouted by UKIP. Oh hang on: the Tories rely on that too..

  • rate this
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    Comment number 14.

    I dont trust the LIbLabCons.They have proved to duplicious over Europe and Immigration. I am nearly 50 and have NEVER had the opportunity to vote on these important issues. I dont give a damn about changing the fine detail on pensions. I want democracy in my country. It is not theirs by right. Its ours to grasp. UKIP may not be the answer but they are a good boot at the elites' arrogant backsides.

 

Comments 5 of 18

 

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