Where's the love? Today's papers are a vision of the future
Chancellor Philip Hammond’s nothing budget is getting slammed by the Tory press, in stark contrast to their adoring coverage of George Osborne’s budgets.
The Sun splashes with ‘Spite Van Man’, in reference to Hammond’s one per cent National Insurance hike on the self-employed.
But for Osborne’s July budget in 2015, the paper splashed with the Chancellor dancing for joy, in what I described at the time as ‘a curious inversion that sees the chancellor’s backside shine out of the Sun’.
The Daily Mail splashes with ‘No Laughing Matter’, a reference to Hammond’s having cracked a few jokes, trashing his ‘budget raid on savers and the self-employed’.
For Osborne’s July 2015 budget the Mail went with ‘Fearless George Slays the Dragons’, portraying the then Chancellor as England’s patron saint.
A few months earlier for the pre-election Spring 2015 budget, the Mail had Osborne’s smiling face beaming out of the sun itself, ‘shining on savers’.
How to explain this massive change? After all, little of Osborne’s carrots (for the rich) or sticks (for the poor) have been reversed by his gloomy successor. Many of the worst cuts are still to come.
Three possible answers occur. One is that Hammond is considered to be a Brexit moderate compared to some of the fanatical Brexiteers in the cabinet. Could the pro-Brexit press be giving the Chancellor a bloody nose to make sure he falls in line?
Another is that Osborne’s two budgets were either before or soon after a general election, when the right-wing press was on a 24/7 war footing in the first case and basking in their party’s recaptured majority in the second.
By contrast, the Tories are now so confident and free from worry about the Labour Party, our mediocre Prime Minister is literally laughing at the opposition.
The third reason, which is no less troubling, is that previous budgets were austerity for the undeserving, packed with beatdowns on welfare recipients and handouts for the better off.
This time around, the shower is being turned a little towards the bottom half of the relatively comfortable – small business-owners, people with savings, etc. – in other words, these newspapers’ natural constituency.
As the reality of Brexit sets in, with all its dire economic results, this pinch is likely to spread until nearly everyone feels the pain. The panic in the press will only intensify.
What do you reckon these newspapers, in their quiet moments, might reflect on their having been cheerleaders for the very policies – austerity and Brexit- which will bring this disaster about?
Don’t be silly. They’ll do what they always have, and blame it on liberals, poor people and immigrants.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.