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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £30,000+

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for individual...

Recruitment Genius: IT Project Coordinator / Manager

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy