Budget 2013: What George Osborne said... and what he meant

The Chancellor said another eurozone storm would hit the UK economy hard. But John Rentoul interprets this as a plea to the public not to blame him

What he said Mr Deputy Speaker, this is a Budget for people who aspire to work hard and get on.

What he meant This is the favoured version of the infinite variations of the "people who work hard and play by the rules" line coined by Bill Clinton in 1992, although it has the unfortunate echo of, "My goodness, is that the time? I really must get on."

What he said This is a Budget for those who aspire to own their own home, who aspire to get their first job, or start their own business; a Budget for those who want to save for their retirement and provide for their children. It is a Budget for our Aspiration Nation.

What he meant A bit of a dud slogan from the Prime Minister's speech last week, but the political strategist Lynton Crosby says MPs must keep repeating everything, and it is only when we are bored witless that the phrase will start to get through to the public.

What he said The forecast from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility today reminds us of the economic challenge at home and abroad.

But it also reminds us that job creation and employment remain brighter spots.

What he meant If I use two phrases to describe the same thing, then I can use "brighter spots" in the plural and suddenly the whole sentence is infused with the spirit of spring.

What he said The problems in Cyprus this week are further evidence that the crisis is not over, and the situation remains very worrying… I will be straight with the country: another bout of economic storms in the eurozone would hit Britain's economic fortunes hard again... We are still very exposed to what happens on the continent.

What he meant We hope that things won't go horribly wrong before the election, but if they do we want to be sure that you know it won't be our fault.

What he said We committed at the start of this Parliament to a fiscal mandate that said we would aim to balance the cyclically adjusted current budget over the following rolling five years. I can confirm that the OBR says we are on course to meet our fiscal mandate – and meet it one year early.

What he meant A rolling five-year target keeps moving further away, but this year the Office for Blame Repositioning said it would be met earlier than it said last year and, as no one understands cyclical adjustment, no one can contradict them.

What he said However, the likelihood of meeting the supplementary debt target has deteriorated.

What he meant In other words, the target that cannot be fudged also keeps moving further away, but if I hurry through a list of numbers with decimal points in them then it sounds at least as if I know what I am talking about.

What he said I've also had representations at this Budget for measures that would add £33bn a year extra to borrowing on top of the figures I've announced. It's from people who seem to think that the way to borrow less is to borrow more. That would pose a huge risk to the stability of the British economy, threaten a sharp rise in interest rates and leave the burden of debts to our children and grandchildren.

What he meant The old Gordon Brown "I have received representations" routine, allowing the penny slowly to drop that he is talking about the opposition, and that he means, "Ed Balls wants to eat your children and grandchildren".

What he said Taken together, the measures I will announce today are fiscally neutral overall.

What he meant Tax cuts in one place will be balanced by tax rises or spending cuts elsewhere. In other words, it is all smoke, mirrors and rhetoric.

What he said I am today setting out an updated remit for the Monetary Policy Committee.

What he meant Top secret code for saying Mark Carney, the new Governor, will be allowed to take the inflation target slightly less seriously as long as he doesn't admit it in public.

What he said Thanks to the tough financial control of my Right Honourable Friend the Chief Secretary [Danny Alexander], government departments are forecast to underspend their budgets by more than £11bn this year.

What he meant Not only was the PM tricking people by pretending there was "no magic money tree" in that recent speech, but it has been located by a Lib Dem, one of the very people we always accused of fiscal irresponsibility in the past.

What he said In difficult times with the inevitable trade off between paying people more and saving jobs, we should put jobs first.

What he meant Ed Balls said so too, so with any luck the public sector trade unions will concentrate their anger on him.

What he said And I can also announce that further awards from the LIBOR banking fines have gone to good military causes, with money for Combat Stress to help veterans with mental health issues and funds for Christmas boxes for all our troops on operations this year and next. Those who have paid fines in our financial sector because they demonstrated the very worst values are paying to support those in our armed forces who demonstrate the very best of British values.

What he meant The Gordon Brown Prize for shameless mid-Budget populism.

What he said Today, I am unveiling one of the largest ever packages of tax avoidance and evasion measures presented at a Budget.

What he meant Just as I did in all previous budgets and autumn statements, and as my predecessors did before me.

What he said These guaranteed mortgages will be available to all homeowners, subject to checks on responsible lending. Using the government's balance sheet to back these higher loan-to-value mortgages will dramatically increase their availability. We've worked with some of the biggest mortgage lenders to get this right. And we're offering guarantees sufficient to support £130bn of mortgages. It will be available from the start of 2014 – and run for three years.

What he meant £130bn of government-backed mortgages to push up house prices? What could possible go wrong?

What he said For a Vauxhall Astra or a Ford Focus that's £7 less every time you fill up.

What he meant This Budget is brought to you by ™ General Motors and ™ Ford.

What he said But I'm going to go one step further and I am going to cut beer duty by 1p. We're taking a penny off a pint. The cut will take effect this Sunday night and I expect it to be passed on in full to customers.

What he meant Another typically Brownian device: "Ladies and Gentlemen - I am going to go further..." And another straightforward piece of populism, which helps to explain the PM's U-turn on minimum alcohol pricing. This is a Government on the side of the hard-working low-income drinker who wants to "get on" with the next pint.

What he said There is one final tax change I want to tell the House about... The Employment Allowance will work by taking the first £2,000 off the employer National Insurance bill of every company. It's a tax off jobs. It's worth up to £2,000 to every business in the country.

What he meant The classic Budget surprise: save it for the end and use the funds taken from the magic money tree – in this case future changes to the second state pension that no one ever understood – to make a big, crowd-pleasing announcement.

What he said This is a Budget that doesn't duck our nation's problems. It confronts them head on. It is a Budget for an aspiration nation. It is a Budget for a Britain that wants to be prosperous, solvent and free. Thank you.

What he meant Just as he was sitting down, the Chancellor realised he had forgotten the ritual line with which all statements are supposed to end, so he muttered it through the cheers: "And I commend it to the House."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition