"No one can accuse George Osborne of lacking audacity," says the Financial Times. "Having writhed for five years within the constraints of coalition", the chancellor "ensured no audience would be disappointed, either in their glee or outrage" at his recent Budget speech.
He "delivered a raft of campaign pledges, most embodying a predictable shift to the right". But he also ended permanent non-dom status, restricted buy-to-let tax relief and, most importantly, "bluntly announced a 40% higher minimum wage for those over 25 by 2020". If successful, this Budget "could lay the foundations of long Conservative hegemony, perhaps under Mr Osborne".
The Budget was "presented with the cunning of a smiling conman", says Kevin Maguire in the Daily Mirror. The higher minimum wage is offset by sharp cuts in in-work benefits "giving with one hand, while stealing more with the other". His Budget may provide a short-term boost to the government, but "Osborne will be in trouble when workers discover that they have been sold a pup".
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Osborne might seek "to be a One-Nation progressive", agrees The Independent's Steve Richards, but he is "still in thrall to Thatcherism". It's clear that his ultimate goal "is to reduce the size of the state".
The cuts to tax credits do seem "unnecessarily harsh", writes Conservative activist Tim Montgomerie in The Times. Moreover, "it's as morally absurd as it is politically calculated that retired voters are getting a guaranteed 2.5% increase in their state pension even though inflation is just 0.1%".
Osborne "has chosen the theme that will surely define the politics of this parliament: work, and work that is properly rewarded", said a Daily Telegraph editorial. The minimum wage hike is in line with "the Conservative tradition, which prefers self-sufficiency to reliance on others and seeks to minimise the role of the state".
Even cutting tax credits is "fair to the taxpayers who funded them". This Budget enables the Tories "to present themselves as the champions of hard work and self-reliance". One thing is for sure, notes Simon Heffer in the same paper: "Mr Osborne has taken a significant step forward in his plan to be our next PM."
Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.
He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.
Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.
As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.
Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri
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