No big dramatic shift from Osborne's Budget

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George Osborne and David Cameron laugh at Ed Miliband's response to the Chancellor's Budget. Photo: PA

The quickest and most concise summary of this budget thus far has come from our new Business Editor, Joel Hills, who said simply this lunchtime: "Less a rabbit out of a hat and more a doddery old hare."

That's about the height of it. There was certainly no big, crowd-pleasing surprise.

The basic truth is that, despite a strongly recovering economy, the Chancellor has chosen to stick to his overall narrative, which is that there is still a massive job to be done repairing the public finances.

A little bit was taken, a little bit given away, but there was no big dramatic shift anywhere.

In terms of the substance of it, one has to note, of course, that pensioners vote.

Some would argue that, as a group, pensioners have fared relatively well during austerity, but whatever the truth of that, there is no doubt they have a higher propensity to vote and George Osborne badly needs their loyalty.

If they were the principal beneficiaries of his largesse, business also fared relatively well.

The Tories note that a lot of the business community is quite hostile to Ed Miliband and they are keen to widen this gap.

But if Mr Osborne's MPs were looking for a game changer (and some were), this wasn't it.

The story hasn't changed; we've been in a mess and getting us out again is a long, slow, hard business.