DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Budget 2015 makes Labour irrelevant

The Chancellor spectacularly exposed the hollowness of every Labour attack of the past five years

This was the Budget that systematically demolished any rational argument for voting Labour on May 7.

True, it will take longer to start paying off the nation’s colossal debts than George Osborne hoped in 2010. And to be fair, there is considerable pain ahead.

But with every economic indicator pointing the right way, the undeniable fact is that Britain is on the mend.

Indeed, the Chancellor spectacularly exposed the hollowness of every Labour attack of the past five years.

The economy ‘flatlining’? On the contrary, it is the fastest-growing in the developed world – 50 per cent faster than Germany and seven times faster than Mr Miliband’s model of Socialist France.

A ‘cost-of-living crisis’? Families have £900 a year more to spend than in 2010.

‘Tax cuts for millionaires’? Under the Coalition, the share of tax paid by the top one per cent of earners has risen from 25 per cent under Labour to 27 per cent.

‘Growing inequality’? A widening ‘gender pay gap’? ‘Spending slashed to the level of the 1930s’? Nonsense, on all three counts.

Since 2010, wealth has been distributed more evenly, the pay gap between the sexes has narrowed – and spending will be cut no further than its level under Tony Blair in 2000.

But it’s on jobs that the Chancellor has most dramatically confounded his critics. Far from the mass unemployment Ed Balls predicted, the Office for National Statistics reports the lowest jobless figures in almost seven years.

Nor has the 1,000-a-day growth in jobs been felt only in the South East, as Labour often claims. For the ONS shows employment growing fastest in the North West, while more jobs have been created in Yorkshire than in the whole of France!

Indeed, making fools of the Left-wing Jeremiahs who predicted Armageddon from cutting the public payroll, the private sector has created four jobs for each one shed by the state.

Add the fortuitous fall in the world oil price – which, with the Chancellor’s freezes on petrol duty, has knocked £10 off the cost of filling a tank – and everything is coming right for the Tories, with perfect timing for the election.

But Mr Osborne’s Budget was more than a mere exercise in self-congratulation for resurrecting the economy from the ashes left by Labour.

To his credit, he avoided the temptation of a pre-election spending splurge to bribe voters with their own money. But such elbow-room as he had, he used wisely – lifting more low earners out of tax, encouraging savers, apprenticeships and first-time buyers and easing pressure on businesses, large and small.

The Labour leader looked crushed

Ed Miliband delivering his response

The Labour leader looked crushed (left) as he rose to deliver his frankly pathetic response (right), couched in the sterile rhetoric of class warfare

Indeed, he had something for almost everyone, young and old, in all parts of the country and every income bracket. There was even a modest, but hugely welcome move to take middle-earners out of the 40p tax band.

All this, and a few well-judged jokes at ‘Two Kitchens’ Miliband’s expense. No wonder the Labour leader looked crushed as he rose to deliver his frankly pathetic response, couched in the sterile rhetoric of class warfare.

But then, with every rational reason for voting Labour disappearing in smoke, what could this privileged product of Oxford and Harvard fall back on but tired jibes at a ‘trust fund Chancellor’ and a ‘Bullingdon Club Prime Minister’?

Yes, huge spending cuts remain to be found, whoever wins the election (and it is simply crazy that ring-fenced overseas aid is forecast to be eight times higher than the Foreign Office budget). Meanwhile, who knows what economic storms may lie ahead?

But on yesterday’s showing, can there be any serious doubt about which party is better fit to steer the ship?

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