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Press Cycle #29 - The Budget
#21
The commitment the Conservative Party has made on social care shows that we are prepared to make the investment to meet Britain's long term challenges. It is a basic and fundamental right that we can expect dignity and respect in old age, and it is a duty of government to provide that investment - that is why the next Conservative government would increase the social care budget to £1.4bn in the first year of the Parliament. That is a £600m increase on the commitment made by the Chancellor in the budget - Labour can find £2bn more for international aid, but only £73m for social care. This is only one example of the many misplaced priorities of this Labour Government - and it is British people who pay the price.
Member of the Conservative and Unionist Party
Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party (2001 - Present)
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (2001 - Present)
Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness (1997 - Present)
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#22
It is no clear that the Chancellor does not know or care what businesses need. At a time of rising unemployment, when we should be making it easier for businesses to expand and employ, the Government wants to make it more expensive to hire. Unemployment will increase further under the Chancellor’s watch if he is not voted out in the General Election. Reducing unemployment means cutting the costs of hiring, not increasing it. The Shadow Budget is making it easier to grow and prosper, which is what the country needs. 

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In Afghanistan, there are millions living on less than $1 a day; children who have never received a proper education; and women oppressed by and dying because of years of discriminatory religious rule. They will be liberated by our actions in Afghanistan, but it will take a lot more than bombs to ensure freedom reigns in that desperately poor country. And it will take a lot more than an invasion to ensure a country no longer harbours or fosters terrorism and extremism, it will require a fundamental rebuilding: something only aid can do.

Our nation will not be secure if we cut international aid. It is right to meet the 0.7% target by 2015, as the Conservatives are committed to. The defence of our country relies as much on the individuals who build schools, cure the sick, and support communities to prosper as it does on our braved Armed Forces. We must do more to support our international aid community.
Conservative MP for Henley (1997 - )

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#23
Mr Myerscough makes a great point when he says International Aid is an important foreign policy tool in the War on Terror but I am somewhat confused by his belief that the Tories are in any way committed to reaching 0.7% of GDP. Not only did they cut International Aid as a percentage of GDP they cut it in absolute terms by over £1bn. The Labour Party recognises the importance of foreign aid, the Tory backbenches understand the importance of foreign aid, why can't the Shadow Chancellor.
The Rt Hon Sir Dylan Macmillan MP
MP for Bedfordshire Mid (1983-Present)

Leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition (1992-Present)
Secretary of State for Energy 1987-1990

@Dylan_Macmillan
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#24
At a time when unemployment is rising, we need new innovative ideas and policies to generate job creation, the Chancellor's refusal to cut corporation tax and increase NI contributions for employers just shows us all that this Government does not back business. 

If you are a business owner ask yourself this, can you really support a Government that is intent on raising your NI contributions and ignoring unemployment?
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#25
Labour's jobs tax could not come at a worse time - as businesses look to the government for support as growth slows and unemployment rises, the only response they will get is a higher national insurance bill. This is a tax on jobs - leading to higher unemployment. We have set out a clear vision for the British economy - a low tax, competitive and transparent economy which will ensure Britain is at the top of the list for places to start and grow a business. While our competitors cut tax to encourage growth, we cannot increase the tax burden. While our competitors invest in innovation and technology, we cannot manage Britain's decline. We must take action now to rebalance our economy - Labour are unfit for the challenge, but the next Conservative Government is ready to back Britan.
Member of the Conservative and Unionist Party
Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party (2001 - Present)
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (2001 - Present)
Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness (1997 - Present)
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#26
Labour's approach on foreign aid is no different from their approach on any other issue - "throw money at it and the problem will go away" - unfortunately that simply isn't the case. Often, foreign aid actually harms - rather than helps - the communities who receive it, by crowding out upstart local businesses and stifling economic development. 

The Conservatives are committed to delivering a foreign aid programme that is lean, efficient, targeted, and strategic, to ensure that taxpayer money goes towards stimulating development of local economies so that they can eventually be self-sufficient and no longer rely on aid to meet their needs. An un-targeted, overly-generous aid programme can actually do more harm than good to the communities it is meant to serve.
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#27
The recent uptick of unemployment was not caused by business taxes so it will not be solved by business taxes. The recent uptick of unemployment was caused by problems outside of our economy like the Dot Com Bubble Burst and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre denting business confidence. The way to restore business confidence in our economy is not to slash and burn our way to a Budget Deficit like the Tories are suggesting, it is to strategically invest in our economy to grow the physical and human capital to deal with the economic opportunities of tomorrow. That is why the Labour Government have decided to invest heavily in Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Education, Adult Skills and unemployment opportunities to build the workforce of tomorrow and to create an economy best suited to the situation we will find ourselves in then. These policies don't all look great on a billboard, I can't appear next to the train station with a flashy grin and a lump of text saying "I cut taxes for business, vote for me", but I can stand here and say that I, along with my two predecessors, have acted in the national interest to grow a strong and vibrant economy fit for purpose in the 21st Century.
The Rt Hon Sir Dylan Macmillan MP
MP for Bedfordshire Mid (1983-Present)

Leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition (1992-Present)
Secretary of State for Energy 1987-1990

@Dylan_Macmillan
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#28
The budget set out by the Chancellor shows that after five years of strong management of our country’s finance we can plan for the future, a future where public services are strong, where the weak and vulnerable are protected by the welfare state, where investment is available and where economic confidence is growing. With a tax cut for 90% of British workers we are seeing the benefits of the economy distributed across our society rather than concentrated with the wealthiest. We are investing in education and training so we have the skills for the modern workplace, we are investing in the NHS so we can lead healthy lives, we are investing in our police and emergency service so we can be safe in the knowledge that we are protected. After five years of a strong Labour government we are seeing the benefits pay off for everyone in our country, all the while paying down our debt. The Government is committed to responsible finances, while the Conservatives will saddle you with debt as they chase even more headlines.
Rt Hon Oscar Hattingly QC MP
Member for Truro
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
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#29
I must admit I am a little shocked to see just how quickly the Tories have abandoned the altar of free market economics in recent times, anything to look good in front of the cameras I guess? If you were to ask a Free Marketeer what they should do if the economy starts to slow, not even start shrinking though might I add, for the most part they will look at you and say that we should stay the course and let the market correct itself. What the Tories are suggesting is the largest intervention in the economy by a Tory since the days of Mr Heath. They want to act like proper Keynesians and slash taxes, boost spending and run a deficit to get the economic cycle sorted. What would Mrs T say?
The Rt Hon Sir Dylan Macmillan MP
MP for Bedfordshire Mid (1983-Present)

Leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition (1992-Present)
Secretary of State for Energy 1987-1990

@Dylan_Macmillan
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#30
It is important to point out whilst the Conservative Party are active in the press, they have left the budget debate in the House of Commons and are no longer wanting to debate the issue. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alywn Thomas, gave a very comprehensive and important reply to their questions but they have failed to continue that debate and have ran straight for the camera and microphone outside the Houses of Parliament. All they ever want is column inches in newspapers and coverage in the press. Meanwhile, this Labour Government continues to govern, following proper parliamentary procedure and responsibly governing to build a better Britain - proving that we are the best choice in this upcoming election.
Barbara Bond, Labour Party
Member of Parliament, Edinburgh South, 2015 - present
General Secretary, UNISON, 2005 - 2014

“Without a revolutionary theory there cannot be a revolutionary movement.” - Lenin
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#31
Labour have constantly told the country - for five years now - that a surplus must be run. It is the duty of government to manage taxpayers' money appropriately, but it also the duty of government to act when there are warning signs in the economy. We have seen unemployment rise by over 50,000 and growth slow significantly. That is why we would take action in the first year of a Conservative term to cut tax and invest for the future - we must utilise the flexibility we have in the public finances today to ensure that the economy can meet the challenges of the future. Our solution is to back people and back business to unleash the forces of growth in our economy - Labour's approach is to tax jobs and increase unemployment. Labour's ideological agenda will cost jobs and they have signalled their intent by significant tax increases in this budget - we cannot let them be at the wheel of the British economy for the next five years.

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We have set out a vision to support families not only in buying their own home, but in getting back into the workplace too. We are the only party which has pledged to introduce at least 15 hours of free child care for families with children as young as one years old. This will help parents - particularly mothers - who want to take up part time work to support a growing family. In addition, we will also take action on gender pay gaps - it cannot be right that significant pay differences exist in workplaces as a result of gender. We will take action to close the gender pay gap and will not tolerate pay differences as a result of gender.
Member of the Conservative and Unionist Party
Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party (2001 - Present)
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (2001 - Present)
Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness (1997 - Present)
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#32
The Tories talk a big game about fiscal flexibility, all their words mean nothing. They invest less than Labour, they still manage to run a deficit and their tax cuts disproportionately help the rich whereas our's cut taxes solely for the bottom 90%. Whether it's on Education, Welfare, Crime, Foreign Policy or Localism the Labour Party are the party of Government and decisions, the Tory Party are the party of protest and of billboard policies.
The Rt Hon Sir Dylan Macmillan MP
MP for Bedfordshire Mid (1983-Present)

Leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition (1992-Present)
Secretary of State for Energy 1987-1990

@Dylan_Macmillan
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#33
When it comes to Foreign Affairs the budget delivered by the Chancellor has shown that with responsible spending and maintaining a budget surplus you are able to increase spending to help people. The increase in international aid will go to help some of the poorest people on our planet, helping them to lift themselves out of poverty, to protect them from preventable diseases and to enable children to gain an education. While the Conservatives may deride our decision to help people I say to them that people not living in poverty around the world is only a good thing for Britain, not only by assisting in humanitarian projects such as Malaria prevention and providing clean water, it will offer them a helping hand up. Labour is committed to helping others, while the Conservatives would sacrifice the poorest on their altar of chasing headlines.

While the Conservatives talk about using the budget surplus they forget that their own plan last year wasted the budget surplus on chasing headlines to one up the Government on fuel duty and now they sacrifice that budget surplus again by taking the finances into a deficit. We saw this financial mismanagement for eighteen years under the last Conservative Government, yet their vaunted flexibility was only flexibility for the rich and powerful while the weak and vulnerable were left to rot. The Government is investing our resources effectively and sensibly to ensure that our economy stays strong, the Conservatives only want waste our resources on tax cuts for oil companies.

With our mission in Afghanistan the Chancellor has taken the very necessary action to ensure that our armed forces are properly equipped and properly funded as we engage in military action. We are recruiting more regular and reserve troops, we have increased funding to maintenance and procurement to make sure that the equipment our soldiers depend on is reliable in the conflict areas. The Government is committed to our Armed Forces and in this time where they sacrifice so much to defend our nation it is imperative that we defend them. While others may wish to use the Armed Forces as a political tool for their own ends I guarantee that while I am in the Government the Armed Forces of our great nation will always be treated with the respect they deserve.
Rt Hon Oscar Hattingly QC MP
Member for Truro
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
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#34
The Chancellor has criticised our proposals for a tax cut on fuel duty - Labour has not learnt its lesson from the fuel duty protests. We have committed to cutting fuel duty in our first year in office and freezing it for the rest of the Parliament to give businesses and families certainty that fuel duty will not rise under a Tory government.

Penny pincher Finch is adding a penny on a pint - this might not seem like a big deal to many, but it is illustrative of a government which does not recognise the importance of pubs to many local communities. We should be doing all we can to support pubs and local businesses which are at the heart of local communities. That is why we committed to freezing beer duty in the Shadow Budget and to supporting local businesses through significant new tax cuts - including the abolition of the starting rate and a 2% cut in the small businesses rate.
Member of the Conservative and Unionist Party
Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party (2001 - Present)
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (2001 - Present)
Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness (1997 - Present)
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#35
It's no wonder the Atwood blew the budget in her first go, she's throwing money around in a desperate plea for votes she's forgotten that if the economy is to remain strong it needs to be buoyant not weighed down by an unnecessary deficit. The Government is committed to sensible spending and the Conservatives are having a blowout of the Treasury. They may think they are delivering a fresh idea but all they are doing is saddling our children with debt to pay, which is fine for the Conservatives. They won't be around to face the consequences of their actions. I am confident that during the election the British people will see the Conservative's spending plans for what they truly are; a smokescreen to hide their incompetence.
Rt Hon Oscar Hattingly QC MP
Member for Truro
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
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#36
Press Cycle closed.
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#37
I hate you all.

[Image: giphy.gif]

(Just kidding, I love how much engagement this got.)

Some general things though:
  • Bold ONE part of your press statement max.
  • Engagement is appreciated - but make sure you're not boring the press. A tidal wave of statements at them, especially if you repeat talking points over and over again, is going to tire the press out and it's going to slowly lose its impact.
  • Make sure your statements aren't too long. Short and sweet. Sometimes a sentence will do - but make sure in that sentence you have something fresh to say!
Labour: 25.5

Labour obviously took a risk (but a calculated one) on this budget - the risk being that if significant tax rises are balanced on the rich only, they would get away with it. Looking at the scores (not just these ones, but the ones still to come!) you can ask yourself if it paid off or not.

Benefit:
  • Most people do feel like this budget is going to benefit them in the short term and feel Labour are looking out for them. 
  • Most people are convinced they get a tax cut, their public services get sufficient investment and the budget is balanced. 
  • Basically, overall, the majority of people are going to be happy overall. What more is there to say?
Cost:
  • Voters are generally interested in themselves as a priority. But occasionally, not always, they'll get upset on the behalf of someone else - the decision to paint the top 10% as the 'super rich' probably didn't rub off well. Undoubtedly these people are well off and earn much more than average. But the Tories' decision to bring doctors into the fold was well calculated in reflecting that it's not always the shady ultra rich that will be hurt, and people are uncomfortable with the top 10% suddenly being humanised as the targets.
  • This was a pre-election budget. Usually for those you're supposed to do a giveaway. And giveaways are supposed to be uncontroversial and leave everyone at least indifferent. Here, you had a giveaway with a massive condition. That probably isn't the wisest thing to do. 
  • You needed to better counter the business argument. Not because the vast majority of people weep at those poor, wealthy businessmen having to pay a bit more in tax, but because the economic model/consensus and mood music is that business needs to be supported for the sake of jobs and everyone else's prosperity: people are worried that this budget doesn't do that, especially in the longer term, and the Tories quite effectively tapped into those worries. To counter them, you either need to play to that tune more effectively (tried to find where the Tories' weren't business friendly, which you didn't do enough of) or try to turn the economic consensus around and say there's more to supporting business than tax cuts (the Chancellor did some of this, but only half heartedly).
Conservatives: 24.5

The Tories also took their own risks, especially when it came to their core base (such as your decision to spend a lot and run a deficit... or 'deficit'... more on that later).

Benefit:
  • You finally have an economic plan - fully formed, in the flesh, with policies! This being released so close to election and alongside the Shadow Budget may have been an interesting and effective tactic. I'm very skeptical people are buying what the Tories have to offer yet on the economy front, but they're definitely doing a bit of window shopping, and considering the Tories have been a little lacklustre economically this round this is a good start.
  • You showed Labour how a giveaway is really done - give a little bit of everything to everyone, and try to piss off as few people as possible. This, combined with a lot of the Shadow Chancellor's kind of 'opportunity for all' rhetoric, is a massive help image wise (and is a big reason the Chancellor attacking you as being the party for the '10%' didn't hurt as much as it could've. 
  • Your attacks on the budget were generally effective, especially on the business front. It raised some big practical concerns for Labour when it came to business, prosperity, growth, unemployment, yada yada. 'Jobs tax' is a phrase the media will enjoy using. 
Costs:
  • That deficit. Yikes. It was a gambit and people don't know how they feel about it, even if they like the result of the Tories running a bit of one. The frustrating thing for me was you did have a good counter to this - that it was a short term plan to get growth back to how it was & you weren't running a deficit on day to day spending, but you didn't use this argument enough.
  • Deciding to invest was a good idea. But suddenly the Tories look like what Labour used to look like: offering nice things, but questions remain over practicality. The Chancellor did really well to attack the nitty gritty of your spending proposals on schools, hospitals, the police and the military - and you didn't seem to have a counter.
  • Some of your attacks on the government's budget were a little over the top. Getting businesses worried worked. But you painted an image a lot of people didn't feel - growth is slowing and unemployment rising, but it's hardly at crisis levels and reading some Tory press statements you'd think it was!
IDK?:
  • Foreign aid. You are on the side of public opinion generally on this, people nod their heads along when you say why spend x on some poor kid in Africa when we have people in need here. But you guys definitely look divided on the issue and the Chancellor effectively tapped into that. Also doesn't do wonders for the nasty party image, even people who support the move probably wince when they see a billion pounds being slashed from poor kids in Africa. So I don't know how much that ploy worked out for you.
TL;DR - Voters probably feel, overall, a little safer with the status quo, and they're definitely satisfied with the budget. But they're prone to being swayed the other way, leaving them feeling a bit more undecided as the election looms closer. 

Influence Points for (without going too much into it):
Alwyn Thomas
Elizabeth Atwood
Aubyn Myerscough

And a bonus bonanza for... ELIZABETH TANNER!
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