Pre-election Budget with added catapult

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George Osborne

Accurately 50 days to go to the election comes a Budget which we’d been advised would be crucial to the outcome.

Why? Because polling suggests that scarcely as Labour are most listened to when they are talking about the NHS – accordingly Ed Miliband’s instant attack on Mr Osborne for making no reference to investment in the fettle service – it’s the Conservatives who command attention when they talk at hand the economy. Strategists call it “traction”. Our own BBC audience check out suggests Midlanders do y more attention to business-related stories than the undistinguished for viewers and listeners across the UK as a whole. Our region is certainly sundry prone to the ups and downs of the economy than most, and when you tie that in to an rade famous for its marginal seats you can see what a highly-charged combination we have here.

Prime movers

So what did Mr Osborne play a joke on to say to a region where we have been chuntering “What about us?”, continually since he set out his vision of a “northern economic powerhouse” last summer? At length, in his sixth and last Budget of the present rliament, came his answer. The north may should prefer to its powerhouse. We have a catapult – and it’s Birmingham. The city is at the centre of a £60m investment delineate called the Energy Research Accelerator for critical long-term areas such as thermal animation and energy storage, which are expected to play such an important let go in our long-term strategy. And, the universities of Birmingham, Aston and Warwick are to be the prime movers in disencumbering it.

Warwick’s vice chancellor Sir Nigel Thrift enthused: “It will ca citate the University of Warwick to create a national low carbon mobility centre, call the automotive, commercial and off-road, marine and rail sectors by the development of drive technologies in energy storage and energy machines, drives and systems.”

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These awe-inspiring success stories are one of the main reasons Mr Osborne was able to declare in his language that “in the Midlands, a new job is created every 10 minutes”. This, in a bailiwick which having long lagged behind the UK average on productivity, was now significantly vanguard of it, the only rt of the country to have a trade surplus with China. The big analysis of course will be whether this new mood of optimism feeds toe to the ballot box.

‘Wages lower’

We used to call it “the feel good go-between” and yet it is well remembered by Westminster-watchers that John Major’s Conservative authority went down to its landslide defeat by Tony Blair’s Labour At-home in 1997 even though the economy was generally performing strongly. But according to Ed Miliband, the husbandry is performing anything but strongly for most people in areas like ours. When he turn out to deliver what’s widely regarded as the most difficult speech in political science, the opposition leader’s instant reply to an hour-long statement, which was not pre-announced, he informed the Commons average wages would be £16,000 a year lower than when Harp on left office. He also warned that the Conservatives were projecting billions of pounds of secret spending cuts, including to the NHS, if they were came to power. There was no question this Budget, despite its well-trailed require of “gimmicks and giveaways” was nevertheless a microcosm of the main cam ign themes that will-power be played out during the run-up to polling in exactly 50 days’ sometime.

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