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20 June 2010

Pre-Budget briefings: huge cuts to welfare

Plus: Cameron calls for “louder” support for our troops.

By James Macintyre

There are two main government-related political stories today.

First, and perhaps inevitably, details of this week’s emergency Budget appear to have emerged, pointing to a huge slash in benefits from Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions and a rise in regressive VAT.

Apart from the fact that — despite Lib Dem influence — this is looking like a very neo-Thatcherite Budget indeed, there may be raised eyebrows in Whitehall about all the briefing clearly going on ahead of it.

Second, David Cameron has made a call, through the pages of the Sunday Telegraph, for the public to express its support for our military “more loudly and more proudly”, ahead of Armed Forces Day next weekend.

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In theory, this is admirable. And doubtless the Prime Minister must fill the huge appetite in the media for government-related stories (the Labour leadership remains in the shadows at present). But, with growing sadness and dismay among the public over 300 British deaths in Afghanistan, not to mention the ongoing war in Iraq, politicians must be careful not to ask too much.

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Support for the military comes without question, and it probably comes more easily without political interventions such as this.