The Budget was an act of oratorical brilliance. Osborne diluted the negatives - particularly cuts to tax credits - with a surfeit of confusing, rambling figures, yet accentuated the positives with clarity and clearness. Osborne delivered his finisher, the so-called living wage, with the sort of lucidity one could expect from Churchill on a good day. The Chancellor offered a brutal Budget and, somehow, due to his delivery, it seemed relatively moderate.
The right were quick to celebrate Osborne's Budget. Apparently, it was necessarily harsh, but it rewarded working people. The media lauded the Chancellor for ostensibly shifting the entire country from welfare to work. Certain papers surprisingly - or perhaps unsurprisingly - praised two of Osborne's policies: the restructuring of the non-dom tax status and the so-called living wage. These are, of course, Labour policies. These are also policies the right-wing press has previously criticised.
Prior to the general election, Miliband suggested that he would offer an £8 minimum wage by 2020. The Daily Mail published articles condemning Miliband's minimum wage promise, citing his general disdain for the business community. The rise in the minimum wage, according to the right-wing press, would cause economic chaos. On Wednesday, the Daily Mail suggested that Osborne's £9 an hour living wage would support British workers. They ran the typically classy headline 'Fearless George Slays the Dragon'.
When Miliband challenged the non-dom tax status, the Daily Mail claimed he was seeking to 'exploit the politics of envy'. Osborne adopts the same policy and, in their prototypically patriotic fashion, the Daily Mail claimed that Osborne was 'taking his sword to non-doms'. Apparently, if Miliband offers a policy it equates to economic chaos, but if Osborne replicates the same policy then all we live happily ever after.
The non-dom restructuring and the so-called living wage are, as Osborne claimed, progressive policies. And the left has been exceptionally weak in their criticism. They have essentially explicated the serious problems with the living wage, ignoring the fact that Osborne topped Miliband's policy. They suggest that the current living wage is £9.15 - in London at least - and thus Osborne hasn't achieved the actual living wage. This is a fair criticism, but one that extends to Labour.
The left also criticise Osborne for not considering the future. The current 0.5% inflation - which will assumedly range between current levels and about 2% in coming years - brings the living wage, or Osborne's living wage, to around £10 by 2020. This inexorably led to criticism from the Labour Party. This, again, is a stupid argument from the left considering Miliband was only proposing an £8 minimum wage, also by 2020. The Labour Party has no dog in this fight - as they can't verily argue against their own policies - yet they keep barking.
The Budget was brutal. It has condemned a certain section of working Britain to poverty. There were, however, progressive policies the Labour Party should support and the right-wing media, with even a semblance of consistency, should criticise. Labour Party MPs and Daily Mail writers are, of course, remorselessly loyal to the point where fealty to their side - and criticisms of the opposition - is more important than what is good for the country.
If the right-wing press want credibility, if they want to demonstrate their allegiance to proper journalistic prinicples, they have to be more consistent. If the Labour Party want to be seen as a force for progress, they need to either accept the opposition's progressive policies or advocate further progressive policies. At the moment, it has been far too easy for Osborne to silence the left.
I concede, as all other lefties should, that while the hypocrisy of the right-wing media is baffling, Osborne has offered a progressive policy. This is a policy that trumped the policies of a man seen as too left-wing by members of the Labour Party. This is a policy that is easy to criticise, but ultimately could alleviate poverty for some working people. I'm happy about the policy - although I personally would have gone further - but I'm saddened by yet more hypocritical and foolish reactions from left-wing MPs and the right-wing media.Suggest a correction