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It’s back to basics for Tory leader

Referring to the tax cuts and subsidies announced in George Osborne’s speech on the economy this morning, Andrew Lansley said: “There are no government lollipops or sugar daddies in this budget. This is an honest approach to cleaning up the economy.” Not one to deny himself some good news, even though the news is not great, Lansley then said: “This is a good budget for people who live and work in towns and cities. “It is a budget for ordinary working people in every corner of the country.”

Mark Reckless, who is now a Conservative MP for Rochester and Strood, will not, by rights, qualify for the tax cut (after all, he lives in Gloucestershire). But he did refer to the regional nature of the budget, with initiatives for Hull and Dundee, and also the good news that the apprenticeship levy will cost just £12 a month.

Some members of the public in Birmingham and Leeds were not so happy about their local councils’ share of the cash. But Leeds council defended the move. Ken Loach was not happy. “I am the proud owner of a minicab firm. It employs 30 people. We are all currently looking for drivers. It costs £500 to licence a cabbie in Leeds. You will pay £12 to train someone up for the same job,” he wrote. A political verdict, then, is that it’s all back to basics.

What about those “daffodil parades”?

“Meals in the garden” will be on offer at a “dinners in the garden” fundraising event in St James’s Park, London, later this month, says the Guardian. “Its history is the shortest of all,” it adds. “Only nine days after it was announced last April, it was cancelled, after an online petition opposing the event collected several thousand signatures. The event was reinstated when a charity was found to back it.”

Helping needy children

“There are 686,000 children in England living in poverty,” reports the Guardian’s Sarah Sands. “That is one in nine. It means that, in the words of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, we are letting down more than 668,000 children. More than half are living in a single parent household, half are too young to be in full-time education. As the chancellor said in his autumn statement: ‘We are not closing the gap. We are going in the wrong direction’.”

And then there is Ruth Davidson, the new Conservative leader of the Scottish Conservatives, who has not had an easy time.

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