UK Politics

Autumn Statement: Press reaction

George Osborne and Danny Alexander

Chancellor George Osborne gave his Autumn Statement on the state of the economy and the government's future plans on Wednesday. Here is a selection of press reaction to the details.

Jeremy Warner, assistant editor of the Daily Telegraph

"The government has managed to get itself on to a seemingly perpetual treadmill of bad news in which, with each successive update on the public finances, it is forced to announce yet another round of austerity just to remain still - a phenomenon sometimes known as 'Red Queen syndrome', after the character in Alice in Wonderland who observes that it takes all the running you can do just to stay in the same place.

"As things stand, there's no obvious way of breaking out of this trap. The compromises of coalition government prevent the kind of radical, supply-side, tax-cutting agenda that might stand some chance of breaking the mould. What we seem to have is a kind of 'New Labour-lite' approach to government in which the Treasury constantly shrinks away from what really needs to be done."

David Blanchflower in the Independent

"Our part-time chancellor continues to put his head in the sand by sticking to his failed fiscal consolidation plans; in the House of Commons in his Autumn Statement he once again claimed 'the economy is healing' and his economic plans are 'on the right track'. What planet is he on? His comments will surely come back to haunt him as there seems little likelihood that much of anything will change given the measures were fiscally neutral: same old, same old."

Martin Kettle, associate editor of the Guardian

"George Osborne and Gordon Brown detested one another. Each was the embodiment of a Britain the other could neither understand nor sympathise with. They are extraordinarily similar politicians nevertheless. Brown was the most politically minded of chancellors. Yet Osborne is every bit as calculatingly political in his methods. Brown loved nothing more than to wrongfoot the opposition in his big set-piece parliamentary performances. Osborne does exactly the same, as we saw again in the 2012 Autumn Statement."

The Times editorial

"Yesterday's Autumn Statement was characteristic of George Osborne's presentation to the House of Commons - confident and measured announcements of news that sounds terrible, but is in fact worse than it looks.

"The chancellor and the government are going to face a very difficult time. They are not just cutting, they are cutting and hoping. Ahead of them are years of difficult decisions that will also need luck to come right."

Max Hastings in the Daily Mail

"The truth is that restoring Britain to any sort of financial health will require years of effort and wise policy-making across every area of government - in education, taxation, energy and welfare reform - together with sustained reductions in public spending such as have not yet taken place.

"The Lib Dems remain hostile to many of these things. The Labour Party is committed to fighting them all tooth and nail. We should never forget that Cameron and Osborne inherited from Blair, Brown and Balls a catastrophe, and they deserve sympathy in their struggle to rescue us from it. We may never learn to love the chancellor, but when we consider the alternative, it becomes tempting to kiss him under the mistletoe."

Kevin Maguire in the Daily Mirror

"Vindictive failure didn't put David Cameron off his claret. George Osborne unleashed a fatwa to make teachers and nurses, coppers and soldiers, the low paid and jobless pay for his Treasury catastrophe.

And the prime minister wandered off for a glass of red and roast beef in the members' dining room. Every man has to eat but Cameron would've choked on his lunch if he had any shame. Mr Osborne is the Grinch who stole the hope of Christmas. Next year's as well. Plus the one after that. And the years following too. We saw the stunning errors of a chancellor exposed as both economically and politically bankrupt."

The Sun editorial

The chancellor didn't mince his words. Growth: Dismal. Outlook: Bleak. Austerity: Years of it.

But amid the gloom of George Osborne's mini-Budget there were bright spots. After the disasters of Mr Osborne's earlier "pasty tax" Budget, this was a genuine attempt to be more in tune with ordinary voters.

The Financial Times editorial

Barely a week has passed since George Osborne was being cheered in the House of Commons for securing the appointment of Mark Carney as the next Bank of England governor. The chancellor's visit to the chamber yesterday, to unveil his Autumn Statement, was an altogether more sombre occasion.

"Mr Osborne put a brave face on the grim news he had to impart. He repeatedly insisted that the British economy was healing, but the road was long and hard.

"The chancellor showed great boldness in the appointment of Mr Carney. His Autumn Statement would have benefitted from a little more of the same spirit."