Opinionomics | 10 April 2012

Must-read comment and analysis, including the death of publishing.

1. Squatters could gain from millionaires' attempts to beat Stamp Duty as house prices fall (Telegraph)

Now that the pasty-tax fuss is dying down, sensible Ian Cowie examines the Chancellor's stamp duty changes.

2. Publishing is no longer a job or an industry — it’s a button (GigaOm)

Matthew Ingram elaborates on Clay Shirky's provocative claim that the publishing industry is obselete.

3. Is George Osborne questioning capitalism? (Left Foot Forward)

Jules Peck looks at the Chancellor's political philosophy.

4. Marrying up and down (Tim Worstall)

Worstall argues that the entry of women in the workplace is having a strong effect on income inequality.

5. Place-dependent output (Economist | Free Exchange)

Ryan Avent analyses the link between urbanisation and productivity in the US.

Squatters occupying a house in March 2010 (Getty).

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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PMQs review: George Osborne is improving but Angela Eagle gives Labour MPs cause for cheer

The shadow first secretary of state revelled in the Tories' splits. 

For months, Labour MPs have despaired at their party's failure to exploit the Tories' visceral EU divisions. But at today's PMQs, Angela Eagle gave them cause for cheer. Facing George Osborne in her capacity as shadow first secretary of state (David Cameron is attending the G7 in Japan), she brandished Iain Duncan Smith's description of him as "Pinocchio". "Who does the Chancellor think the public shoud listen to," she dryly remarked, "his former cabinet colleague or the leader of Britain's trade unions?" Eagle later roused the House by noting the scarcity of Brexiters on the frontbench. Her questions were too broad to pin Osborne down, and she struggled to match the impact of her first performance - but it was a more than adequate outing.

After recent reversals, the Chancellor delivered a ruthlessly efficient, if somewhat charmless, performance. When Eagle punched his Google bruise (following the police raid on the company's French offices), Osborne shot back: "She seems to forget that she was the Exchequer Secretary in the last government, so perhaps when she stands up she can tells us whether she ever raised with the Inland Revenue the tax affairs of Google?" 

He riled Labour MPs by describing the party as anti-Trident (though not yet announced, Corbyn will grant a free vote), a mark of how the Conservative leadership intends to use the issue to reunify the party post-referendum. "We look forward to the vote on Trident and he should get on with it," Eagle sharply retorted at the start of the session. But Osborne inevitably had more ammunition: "While she's sitting here, the leader od the Labour Party is sitting at home wondering whether to impeach the former leader of the Labour Party for war crimes." He compared Labour MPs to prisoners on "day release". And he gleefully quoted from Jon Cruddas's inquiry: "In their own report this week, Labour's Future, surprisingly long, they say 'they are becoming increasingly irrelevant to the working people of Britain."

The muted response from the Tory benches demonstrated how badly the EU vote has severed the party. But Osborne will be satisfied to have avoided any gaffes or hostages to fortunes. His performance today, his best to date at PMQs, was a reminder of why he is down but not yet out. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.