Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pleasing the Voters and That Grumpy Gentleman Next Door

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pleasing the Voters and That Grumpy Gentleman Next Door

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Overbury

Dear Alistair ATS off to you, Alistair!

HWith only weeks until the expected General Election, you walked a fine line when you stepped out from 11 Downing Street with your Budget plans. Many pundits had said your speech would be more of a political statement than a package of economic measures. You weren't going to make yourself unpopular with anything particularly radical - Uncle Gordon wouldn't have liked that. And anything which would have got the masses cheering too loudly would have led to accusations of trying to curry favour.

But well done, Alistair. You managed the balancing act well.

I was concerned you'd boast too much about recovery when it's obvious that we're far from out of the woods. You wisely told us we're at a crossroads then proceeded to pull a good number of rabbits out of the hat.

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You worked hard to include just about everything, showing support for the young, for growth, for investment and for jobs. All fairly cautious, but confident and responsible.

Smokers and drinkers won't be happy - although the supermarkets will probably pick up the bill for the higher alcohol duty and I fear that struggling pubs will struggle even more.

A clever vote winner was the announcement of an extra pounds 100m to repair local roads and pounds 285m for motorways.

Forget talk of soap operas, Newcastle United's probable promotion and Cheryl Cole's marriage - the conversation wherever I go is the daily game of "dodge the pot holes" we've been playing since the heavy snow.

We liked your comment that "improved global financial regulation must be the key priority". And we smiled when we heard that the windfall tax on bank bonuses had raised pounds 2bn - far more than expected.

But then we thought about all the bankers making all that money in bonuses and we got angry. And then we realised that the "global levy" you are seeking on the banking sector, means that nothing very much is being done to clamp down on the still booming world of bankers.

Many pundits are saying that the doubling of the stamp duty limit - from tonight - from pounds 125,000 to pounds 250,000 for first-time buyers will give a major boost to the housing market. …

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