1. ITV Report

ITV Border's Political Editor dissects the battle ahead

Peter MacMahon talks what lies ahead after the Autumn Statement Photo: ITV News Border

There are two political battles going on which are reflected in the debates which the Chancellor's Autumn Statement generated.

The first is what might be called the battle for Britain. In other words the main UK parties positioning themselves for the next general election.

The Tories will say the action they have taken in government to get the UK economy back on track is demonstrated in the statement's facts and figures.

They will say, as George Osborne did today, that things are finally looking up but that there is more work to do.

Their pitch to the voters will be this: trust us to finish the job of cleaning up the mess Labour left.

For their coalition partners in the UK government, the Liberal Democrats, they will argue - as Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander did today - that they have been part of the UK taking the post-recession medicine.

The Lib Dems will say that they have also acted as a break on the Tories, ensuring policies like raising tax free allowances have been introduced.

Their pitch will be that they can act as a sensible, reasonable force for moderation in a coalition - though with whom they won't say.

Labour take a different tack. They claim that the UK coalition has made life worse for the majority of people in Britain.

They point to the statement and say that the prediction have changed over time and claim that voters cannot trust the Tories in power.

Labour's pitch will be that only they are on the side of those famous "hard-working families" about whom we hear a lot for politicians.

But before we even get to the UK election there is the small matter of the independence referendum in Scotland.

The autumn statement has served to reinforce the battle lines north of the Border.

The UK government will say that it proves that Scotland gets, to coin a phrase, the best of both worlds.

And they are using the statement to put pressure on the SNP to use the extra money they have been given - more than £300 million over two years - to pay for an extension of help with child care.

The SNP, on the other hand, is saying that the money is welcome but they have suffered far more significant cuts from Westminster.

Only independence can allow radical plans like the boost to childcare - the flagship plan unveiled in their independence White Paper - to work properly, the SNP will say.

Joining in to put pressure on the SNP are the political parties in Holyrood.

The Lib Dems and Labour are pressing them on childcare. Their argument is not just about the policy but about the constitution.

They say that the help for mothers to go back to work could be achieved under devolution and does not need independence.

On the other hand, the SNP say that this is exactly the kind of policy which proves their case for leaving the United Kingdom.

So today was only the start. We can expect more analysis of the autumn statement figures in the days ahead and for the Westminster battle to intensify.

And we can be sure the constitutional battle will not let up either.

Brace yourself for more to come.

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