The Budget analysis has missed the point

Alastair Stewart

Former ITV News presenter

George Osborne works on a Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet during his visit to BAE Systems in Warton, Lancashire, on Thursday.

Sunday is a day of rest and reflection.

Here's a thought, I hope worthy of reflection but, perhaps, disturbing of your rest.

I wrote, as the early dust settled on the Budget last week, how truly radical it was.

Since then, a cascade of analysis has crashed across our screens and squirted ink upon the pages of our newspapers - much of it missing the point.

They intended to make life more uncomfortable for those on benefits. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The respected IFS pointed out how badly hit were the poor.

It also observed those earning well, were well served by the Budget.

Regressive, painful, uncaring - critical words fell from the thesauruses of the thoughtful commentariat.

Many of them, however, missed the point.

With a little less than five years to go, and with a slender majority in their back-pocket, the Conservatives have embarked upon a really radical agenda.

They intended to make life more uncomfortable for those on benefits.

They intended to make the attractions of work, even of earning well, all the more attractive.

The data and analysis suggest they are on course.

There are stupid fault-lines still to be addressed - Fraser Nelson in the 'Spectator' is especially strong on the marginal rates of tax that punish folk on the cusp between benefits and pay.

These need to be addressed.

George's gauntlet is plain. Credit: PA Wire

But when the House hissed at Mr Osborne's use of the word 'life-style', when talking of the world of benefit versus the world of work, they meant it; but he meant to use that challenging word, too.

George's gauntlet is plain: remaining stuck in a world of welfare, unless you are among the vulnerable in need of help, will cease to be an option.

Work is the way forward.

It will be made more rewarding with tax cuts, already a work in progress; and, yes, the further up the scale you scramble, the more rewarding it will get.

If you accept that, it all makes sense.

If you don't accept it, or find it cravenly objectionable, you won't re-elect the Conservatives in 2020.

It is that simple.

It is the truth of the next 58 months.