So the Chancellor shot a few of Labour’s foxes.
First to go was the idea that the Conservatives will take the UK back to 1930s levels of spending. This is Labour’s favourite lie, based on confusing spending as a percentage of the economy with real levels of spending, which are currently nine times the 1930s! As explaining all that is difficult, the Chancellor has raised planned spending for 2019-20 so the percentage of the economy will be 36%, the same level as Mr Brown and Mr Blair chose in 2000. No return to the 1930s guaranteed.
Second to go was the idea that a further raid on the pension funds of the better off, and an increase in taxes on banks would pay for Labour’s programme. The Chancellor has done both those things, and the money is absorbed into the budget figures to help pay for the tax cuts the government offered.
Third to go was the idea that living standards had fallen this Parliament. The Chancellor gave us numbers to show they have gone up modestly, and are now rising at a better rate. GDP per capita is 5% higher, and real household income per capita is also up over the Parliament.
Fourth to go was the idea that the new jobs are all part time, zero hours or low skilled. The Chancellor assured us 80% are full time, and most are skilled.
So what is the underlying strategy? Mr Osborne has set out five years spending and taxing plans, so all know what they will get from a Conservative government. Other parties in the election will have to work from those figures and explain how they will pay for extra spending or how much extra they will borrow.
His plans are to get the budget into balance by 2018-19. Debt as a percentage of GDP will be falling from next year, 2015-16. Public spending is forecast to go up by £60 bn in cash terms in 2019-20 compared to 2014-15, with the largest increase in the final year. In 2016-17 there is a planned small cut in cash public spending.
Savers will benefit from £1000 tax free savings income on standard rate tax, and from more flexible ISAs.