Cultural Quotient: Cooking up the Future

What is it?

Cultural differences result in practical differences of political and commercial practice. For example, contrast the views of political elites in China and American. China’s political elite focus on strategy.  The process of foreign policy for China is one which is measured in decades. This is informed by their world view of ‘exceptionalism’: China is unique and is playing the long game against the world. American foreign policy focuses on short to mid-term benefits. This is a direct result of the short term election cycles demanding accountability. Politicians want to show that they can deliver on their promises.  The result? America wants detailed plans with lots of check points; China wants to look at the final outcome.

Bluntly, these differences mean that if you walk into a meeting room in Italy and England and give the same presentation you would be singularly unsuccessful. As an Italian, I recognise that many Italians – based on their education which focuses on theory – prefer understanding concepts and applying themselves rather than the more British approach of bullet pointing the solution.

Of course, politics and business represent two snapshots where cultural differences impact on outcomes. It can extend into almost every sphere. America applied it to the military. The US Army ran a program named a “Human Terrain System” (HTS). In 2005, McFate and Jackson identified deficiencies in the command echelons of the US army in understanding its field of operations (Afghanistan and Iraq). Consequently, the Army introduced HTS which embedded anthropologists with units in order to give them a better understanding of ethnic groups in the region. Highly controversial, the impact is unclear; a benevolent interpretation however fits HTS into a world which increasingly pursues understanding.

How does it work?

Ang, Van Dyne & Livermore (three prominent academics in the field) break CQ down into four parts. The first is the CQ-Drive. This is the a person’s interest in making effective links in culturally diverse settings. Secondly, CQ-Knowledge seeks to identify how much a person actually knows about different cultures. Thirdly, CQ-Strategy quantifies an individual’s ability to analyse their multi-cultural experiences. Finally, CQ-Actions is the ability of an individual to put their learning and reflection on multi-cultural differences into practice.

This is quite technical, so let’s render this more simply: cultural intelligence is a bit like cooking. View the Drive as the reason for cooking. The Knowledge is the recipe. The Strategy is the picking of the recipe. Action is the ability to actually cook.

This analogy is useful because it underlines something very obvious: CQ is part-intuitive and part-learned. You can gain a reason to cook and you can certainly learn recipes, but the gut feeling of which is the right recipe to use or the ability to judge whether this particular fish requires a little more garlic to bring out the flavour is something you either have or don’t have.

Either way, it is vital to be able to use CQ because it allows you to take the best every culture has to offer. The point is that rather than being fault lines which separate team members you can use them to build the unit to cover each other’s faults.

Why now?

A basic answer would point to globalisation. Dr. Henry Kissinger, speaking to The Economist, defined the present as the first time in history we have a global international system. Every part of the world can affect every other part of the world by its actions. There are ever more reasons pushing individuals from different countries and cultures together. And there is a consequence ever greater need to be able to work effectively in this environment.

But if you accept the “basic answer”, you haven’t been paying attention. This is because the mere ‘push’ of people together is unlikely to provide enough CQ-Drive. Often, enforced proximity may result in further entrenchment of one’s own views against a perceived “encroachment”. In fact it is precisely the sense of haplessness and inevitable arrival of the ‘other’ that has provided a swell of nationalism across the Western world.

The critical difference is that some people have no choice but to work with individuals from foreign cultures. These individuals compete against one another, and in this fight-to-survive world, CQ provides a form of Darwinian edge – and thus snowballing its effectiveness.

If this conclusion is correct, it suggests that as more industries have no choice but to work cross-culturally the importance of CQ will continue to grow. Capitalist economics will allow no other approach because understanding the individual sitting across from you in a negotiation is an edge that cannot be ignored.

State of the (European) Union 2016: What a British audience needs to know

Just over 24 hours ago, President of the European Union Commission Jean-Claude Juncker made his second State of the Union speech. The text can be found here. For a country that has recently voted to leave the bloc, these ramblings may seem thoroughly unimportant. In fact, there are three reasons why it is worth paying closer attention to. The speech outlined the policies that the EU will take in the coming year; it permits one to draw conclusions on the overall health of the Union; and it highlighted how the media continues to misrepresent the news. But first, what is the speech?

Question: what lasts an hour, spans three languages and has its own hashtag?

Top marks if the answer you gave was Juncker’s State of the Union speech. Properly, the speech was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty (2009). It is designed to be a yearly speech made by the President of the European Commission to the Members of the European Parliament. Essentially, it is the EU telling the Member States what it is thinking, thereby increasing transparency by permitting anyone to foresee where the EU will head in its next legislative cycle.

It should be remembered however, that this newly-constituted ritual goes beyond a mere speech. It acts as the staging ground for the (often forgotten) State of the Union debate, in which the European Parliament debate the principle policies of the coming year.

A Year An Hour

The advice often given to public speakers – your speech should be shorter than the attention span of your audience – seems to have been taken to heart by Juncker, who gave the State of the Union speech in little less than an hour. The President of the Commission addressed many of the major themes facing the EU, such as populism, Brexit and the refugee crisis. However, below are five key policies which British readers should be aware of:

  1. Foreign ministry

Despite much talk of the ‘European army’ (see below), the creation of a post for an “EU foreign minister” piques my interest most and thus takes the top spot. It marks a shrewd move by Juncker to increase intergovernmental relations. Leaders of European Union nations already meet through the European Council and Ministers routinely attend the Council of Ministers. But such a post would require the constant collaboration of Foreign Ministers, deepening links between States.

It also represents a move towards one thing that all the States can agree on with regard to the refugee crisis: better management at the EU’s border is necessary. For this reason, calls to beef up Frontex were met with positive noise from the hall.

  1. European army

The development of the European army agenda comes in at second place because of its shock factor. In this speech, Juncker proposed a joint headquarters and a joint procurement policy, coming far short therefore of an army to use willy-nilly, as many headlines would have you believe. Pooling procurement cuts costs to individual Member States allowing them to maintain their military capabilities for a fraction of the cost. This is one benefit. A second benefit, would be the increase in efficiency of the missions that the EU is undertaking under the Common Security and Defence Policy it has. These missions include countering piracy off Somalia, training the armies of Somlia, Mali, and the Central Africa Republic and targeting migrant-traffickers in the Mediterranean.

The UK – always seeking to cosy up to America – has just as consistently made noises about how such a force would undermine NATO. Even where there is no evidence that this would be the case. Now that the UK has bowed (or fallen) out of the room where such discussions are held expect to see things progress much more rapidly.

  1. Infrastructure investment

If the EU holds true to the vision outlined by Juncker, the next ten years will be a period of reinvestment into areas around Europe. “Today, we propose to double the duration of the [European Investment Fund and double its financial capacity” trumpeted Juncker. Furthermore, ears flicked up when it was proposed “to equip every European village and every city with free wireless internet access around the main centers of public life by 2020”.

Of course, the UK is likely to miss out if the calculations of the British government are anything to go by with regarding to Wales, which will be £245 million per annum worse off. But this is important because it means an increase in productivity on the continent with which the British Isles must contend.

  1. Solidarity core

Modeled on Americorps, Juncker proposed a “Solidarity corps“, with the aim of bringing together young people from across the EU to tackle topical problems across the globe. Some 100,000 young Europeans are hoped to take part by 2020. Sure, it might take a while to rival its American progenitor: which has seen almost 1 million members donate more than 1.2 billion hours since 1994. But it marks exactly the kind of move towards interaction with the young voters and citizens of tomorrows the EU must do. It comes in as fourth because although a great opportunity for tomorrow’s pre-University students, it is unclear whether it will be open to non-EU citizens (e.g. a Brit).

  1. No “à la carte” menu choice for negotiations

Directly relevant to all countries seeking to negotiate a break from the EU (i.e. only the UK), Juncker made crystal clear that one could not choose “à la carte” which parts to keep and which to leave in a break up with the EU. No freedom of movement means no free access to markets. One wonders whether the EU could be any clearer than this. One rather suspects not. This is a vital point for those in Britain interested in the negotiations – but it comes last because it was already crystal clear.

Fit to serve?

There may be some concerns about the fitness of the two American candidates for President, but there are far greater concerns on this side of the Atlantic regarding the health of the Union which holds together 28 (soon to be 27) nations in the European Union. Did the speech reassure or reek of desperation?

Juncker did not shy away from identifying difficulties. He freely admitted that the EU is facing “splits out there and often fragmentation exists”. Indeed, for many he went further and did not hesitate to point to examples where this fragmentation leads to violence, in no uncertain terms referencing the murder of a Polish man in Harlow: “Europeans can never accept Polish workers being beaten up, harassed or even murdered in the streets of Essex.” In this speech, Juncker accepts the difficult of squaring the circle: listening to the voice of the people, even when that voice appears to be nationalistic to the point of xenophobia.

Of course, such statements gave far right MEPs the chance to go starry eyed at the prospect of the EU’s collapse: Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front party, described the speech as a “funeral for the European Union” and was cheered by her UK counter-parts, UKIP.

Le Pen (and UKIP MEPs) were wrong to interpret these comments as a sign of weakness. Quite the contrary. It is a sign that, at last, the institutions of the European Union are awaking to the importance of listening to the population they seek to represent. Much like when you or I suspect that there is something wrong with a loose tooth, squaring up to heading to the dentist is braver than trying to struggle on, Juncker’s admissions should be seen as an attempt to square up to the rising populism amongst EU countries. Despite the 8 million jobs created since 2013, 140 trade agreements and the success of COP21, Juncker is aware of the mood of Europeans. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council is certainly aware of the importance of treating Brexit as a symptom of the rise of populism.

Media, media, when will you learn?

At best, the speech represented a far-ranging vision of the year to come, clearly and steadily keeping an eye on approaching dangers. At worst, it was provocative and thin on details. However, it is disappointing to read of the BBC’s (we won’t touch the Express or the Daily Mail) title: “Brexit: Juncker fails to impress Europe’s media“.

For many Britons, they won’t do much more than read the title or the article. So they won’t know that this is an unfair comment. Although referencing Sueddeutsche Zeitung’s negative coverage, the BBC’s article goes on to reference the positive coverage of Der Spiegel, Le Monde and Rezecspospolita. Going further, Tim King writing for Politico, a leading media outlet focusing on the EU, gave a mostly positive review.

Why does this matter? Because the British public will continue to be misinformed and under prepared for the realities of life in the 21st century, when its media continues to portray the picture the public wants to hear of the EU. We just have to hope that the the British press will turn elsewhere, allowing the EU institutions to get on with their job rather than face tiresome trite tirades.

Facts over fiction. It seems that Juncker learned his lesson from his 2015 speech but the British media has not.

Why a bad workman can blame their tools

There have certainly been mistakes made by the Remain campaign, which makes them “bad workmen”. But the tools they had – the referendum – were dodgy too. Criticisms of the EU Referendum are valid, and the word “democracy” cannot be used as a blanket decision ever made by a majority.

On Thursday 23rd June, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union 51.9% to 48.1%. A key debate following this outcome is whether or not this referendum result should be respected. To many, this appears the backlash of those on the losing side of the referendum. This appears to be a dangerous line of reasoning because it challenges the democratic voice of a people.

However, there was little about this referendum that was democratic. Labelling it as such – and thereby affording it the shield of majority voice – is dangerous.

In Ancient Athens, there was “direct” plebiscite democracy. Every (admittedly only male) citizen would gather to vote on every decision. On Thursday we saw the flaws of reliance on direct democracy: people can be fooled. Within hours of the vote for Brexit, Farage admitted that the £350 million figure was difficult to actually pin down and that any money the UK did find would not necessarily go to the NHS. Even after video evidence of him pledging the money emerged. Hannan admitted that there would be no “radical decline” in immigration because a free trade deal (which requires free movement of peoples) is necessary. And let’s remember that Hannan was part of the Campaign Committee of the official Vote Leave campaign, which, famously, used this picture on the side of their campaign bus.

Of course, there are intellectual arguments for leaving the EU. But these do not appeal to the average working British person who has more practical concerns – or been told to fear Schrodinger’s immigrant; the immigrant who both lazes at home taking all their benefits and steals their jobs.

Today we supposedly live in a representative democracy. The electorate chooses who makes decisions on their behalf, because the volume and technicality of decisions require prolonged consideration. This is something that cannot always be achieved through the mess of political campaigns.

Take the example of the economic arguments surrounding membership. Voters cited the falling share of world GDP held by the European Union as an indicator of its irrelevance. In the 1980s, Europe was 30% of the world economy. Today, it makes up 18% of world GDP. Yet the context is that China in the 1980s only made up 2% of world trade. Now it makes up 17%. It isn’t the EU which is diminishing. It is simply that the developing countries are catching up by industrialising their own economies. Evidence is the fact that the G7 in 1974 were made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and the UK. In 2034 there will be no EU countries: only Brazil, China, India, Japan, Us, Russia and South Korea. The EU as a whole however will remain the largest economy even in then.

Let’s go even deeper: the UK’s membership of the EU gives it a huge boost thanks to financial services “passporting”. Passporting means that a firm authorised in any one area of the European Economic Area (EEA) can provide services in all of them. The cost of losing the passport is that (for example) investment banks must conform to other regulations in the target country in which they want to invest. Any double burden (i.e. having to meet two sets of regulations – those at home and those abroad) is always more expensive to the firm.

The EU referendum was an experiment of democracy in the 21st century. It did not work: many believed that they could vote on impulse and reject the advice of experts: this has only led to regret.

Donald Trump: An International Problem

If you are American you should be ashamed. Successful politicians have long been said to stand for whatever other people will fall for. But the American people seem to be falling for a lot.

A Dark Past

It is difficult to see what makes Trump particular adept at politics. For a man who is interested in money only insofar as it helps him to “keep track” of the “game”, he seems to has tarred himself with a series of dubious brushes. There are three vital parts to his character that I want to deconstruct.

1. Morality

Trump’s involvement with ACN is something that has been buried. Here is a link to his role in the company’s promotional video. But it should have been one of the first flags that warned as to the frightening lack of morality that the man exhibits.

ACN is a telecommunications company. It conducts sales through independent business owners (IBOs). But the company has been mired in multiple scandals. Take Trump’s promotion of the ACN video phone. At the same time as he was promoting it, the lack of compatibility with other phones meant that the company had had to slash orders. It was a flop. This was never brought up in Trump’s promotional video. It seems difficult to square with his reputation as a straight talker.

In general, this brings one to doubt his business ability. Attention should be drawn to the fact that Trump would be richer today if he had retired 30 years ago and simply invested his money.

2. Discriminatory

Trump’s ambition to build a wall across the South of the US is one that belongs to the 2nd century before the Christian era, in China, not an enlightened 21st century democracy.  Firstly, the Chinese built it in an effort to stop invasion. Mexicans today are not invading America – they are crossing for socio-political reasons. Secondly, Trump’s blanket statements that the individuals coming from Mexico are “bringing crime. They’re rapists” fails to capture the diversity of problems that are pushing Mexicans into America. This effectively stops solutions from being adopted.

It is representative of someone who fails to see the bigger picture.

3. Religious

Following recent comments about the way in which he would deal with Muslims (i.e. banning them from the USA), outrage has flooded traditional and new media. It is a point of historical note that there is a deep irony in Trump’s comments. Muslims dragged to the America were forced to convert in Christianity during the 18th and 18th century; but now that they could freely enter they are deterred. It seems completely at odds with the vaunted principles of the American constitutionalism.

Trump is just wrong. Most pertinent to this article is his erroneous understanding of the Muslim demographic in the USA.  Trump’s Muslim fetish seems to blind him to the real situation. For example, only 20% of all Muslim’s in the world live in the Middle East/North Africa area. By far the majority therefore, live in other areas. 62% of all Muslims live in the Asia Pacific region. Only around 1%  of American adults are Muslim.

Why should this matter?

Of course, at first glance, the opening of this article might see to be distinctly unfair – that every American is tarred with the same brush as the Trump supporter. But this criticism, fails to appreciate the way in which politics is linked to society. As an Italian, I felt an acute shame at both the actions and the re-election of Mr. Silvio Berlusconi. The reason I felt this shame was not that I had supported him and he was now betraying my trust.  No, my shame resulted from the fact that I was part of a society that was so broken that it would turn to a grand-standing figure as its saviour. I felt I had a duty to correct this. And I know feel the same duty to write this article.

Amusement is the wrong reaction. Firstly, it hides an awful truth. These individuals are much closer to power than they appear to be. No one now needs reminding of Berlusconi’s reign. And the latest polling shows that Trump is leading the Republican nomination race. The odds on his winning the presidential race seem scarily high, when compared to others. The approach taken by the UK, to ask to ban Donald Trump from their territory  is incredibly popular. It is not legally impossible to ban someone from the UK. Whilst there are problems with this approach, it certainly takes ‘Trumpania’ seriously. And there is much to commend a more serious reaction.

Personally, I cannot decided whether Trump is merely blissfully ignorant or wilfully misleading. What I do see, however, is that the amusement which is derived from his antics this side of the Atlantic is dangerous, much like I found the amusement in British newspapers regarding Berlusconi as dangerous. Governments should be willing to crack down on political grandstanding because cult figures can have all too dangerous consequences.

Elaboration would require a thorough historical analysis. But it is indubitable that all those who have risen to power on the back of speeches of hatred have been retrospectively condemned. McCarthyism, in its original narrow sense, referred to the practice of spreading a campaign of fear against communists  in America. Look how that turned out. And this is not the first analogy drawn between the treatment of the ‘other’ then, and now. Haynes Johnson compared the abuses “suffered by aliens thrown into high security U.S. prisons in the wake of 9/11” (J. Haynes, The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism. [2005] Harcourt. p. 471.ISBN 0-15-101062-5) to the period in which McCarthy held dominance. Let us not forget that Mr.Jospeh McCarthy was backed by popular support: a Gallup poll found that 50% of Americans favoured McCarhty’s approach.

I am just as worried by an America where it is Donald Trump’s hand which is in the nuclear cookie jar, as I am by a terrorist militant death cult which is targeting the countries in which I live.

Iran and Nuclear Energy: ‘To Deal or Not to Deal’?

Historical Currents

In 2002, an Iranian opposition group named the National Council of Resistance of Iran, gave details of nuclear fuel production at a facility in Natanz. This prompted a visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the site; which concluded in the summer of 2003 that Iran had failed to meet its obligations under the safeguards agreement. Although this led to the Tehran Declaration of October of that year, in which Iran agreed to suspend enrichment, this broke down after the rise to power of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Throughout 2006 – 2010 there Iran has been subjected to sanctions. It was in November 2013 that an initial agreement took shape in the Joint Plan of Action. This was an agreement between Iran and China, Russia, France, America, France, and the United Kingdom: sanctions are partially lifted in exchange for depleting its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium.

Why has this path been so rocky? There are a host of traditional problems. Firstly, Iran’s size means it is difficult to police – the IAEA has limited resources, and samples have a delay before the results of the anlaysis can be returned so controlling such a massive territory. Secondly, Iran has a real domestic need for nuclear fuel – thus limitations are seen as hobbling the sovereignty of the nation. This is particularly the case giving growing threats in the region. Thirdly, access to sites requires a delicate balance – between permitting a country to maintain national defence secrets, but not permitting it to shield its nuclear potential.

Iran has enriched uranium to 20%. The growing instability of the Middle East has increased the pressure on ensuring that a deal regarding this concentration is reached – because it is the concentration of the uranium which determines the ‘breakout time’.

In April 2015, a preliminary framework to bring the situation under control was outlined with some success. The framework is centred on the two routes to nuclear weapons. To enrich uranium ore it must either be passed through a centrifuge, or through a reactor, in order to increase the concentration of U-235. Bomb grade uranium requires concentrations above 90%. The Iranians have agreed to limit enrichment to 3.7% and to reduce stockpile of low-enriched uranium from 10,000 kilograms to 300 kilograms, for the next 15 years. The access issue is purportedly being addressed through a ‘managed access’ process. It seems, following initial reports, that this functions by permitting blanket access to military sites, with Iran being able to challenge the classification of certain areas.

The American Dream?

Stability in the  Middle East is one of the few strategic policies American has maintained since its emergence from isolationism. There is certainly significant scope to argue that it has not achieved this. Diplomatic relations with Iran fit into the American dream of a stable Middle East, by seeking to ensure that the tension between it and Israel do not manifest. It also provides America with an ally on the ground, against the growing threat of Islamic State expansion.

At the same time, if a deal is struck America would have to relieve its sanctions. This would open Iran as a market for arms trade – particularly for Russia, with whom there is a close allegiance. A heavily armed Iran would not contribute to the stability of the region.

A new wind?

It seems that many cats have lent their lives to the altar of ‘the Iran Nuclear Deal’. The New York times drew attention to the fact, when reporting on this latest round of talks. On one level, and as argued in the cited article, it is part of the negotiating technique. Showing that you are willing to walk away from the deal is only as important as showing that you are interested in concluding a deal.

Much can be said for the idiom that ‘a good compromise leaves nobody happy’. Conservative Americans and radical Iranians are certainly unhappy – they view any compromise as weakness. But there is very little they can do. The US congress can reject a deal, but the President of the United States (who is pro-deal) can veto such a rejection. To overrule the president a two-thirds majority is required, which is unlikely.

Agreement in Vienna has been reached, along those lines outlined above. It will be interesting to see, moving forward, how the deal is used by Russia and America to achieve their respect aims of peace and trade.

Zero Hour Contracts: A Countdown to What?

What are zero hour contracts?

A zero hour contract is a contract which gives neither an obligation to the employer to offer work, nor an obligation on the party of the employee to accept it. The exact mechanisms for achieving this differ between contracts, but the lack of obligation is the heart of the zero hour contract.

They are designed to provide an alternative to agency workers. An agency worker would be rented out when there is demand, through an intermediary (the agency). A worker on zero hours doesn’t have to work through the middle man. This is an advantage.

A difficult battleground?

There is a debate as to their effect. On the one hand, it is possible to argue that they damage the ability of the lowest-skilled workers to demand living wages by permitting employers to take advantage of employees. Often, a zero hour contract is the only available offer of work. Yet this does not provide a guaranteed income. Naturally therefore, those working under such a contract seek to find other work. Employers however, could insert clauses to prevent the individual from searching for other jobs, knowing that the individual who accepts a zero hour contract is often desperate.

On the other hand, the argument can be made that during a period of economic recovery (when this become a hot topic) jobs were few – and even the ephemeral promise of a zero hour contract was preferable to nothing. This is particularly helpful for students, especially since some universities limit the amount of hours an individual taking a course is permitted to work.

Certainly, the changes formalised on the 26th of May 2015, forbidding zero hour contracts containing exclusivity clauses was a positive move because it addresses their potentially repressive nature.

In fact, this change significant becalms the storm surrounding the topic. Because the fact that zero hour contracts have been shown to stack rights in favour of the employer is not one that can be solved through legislating. A contract is the result of a negotiation between two parties. One of these two parties will almost always have a stronger position – and therefore be able to demand better terms. It is true that any government left of absolute capitalism should be interested in mitigating the harshness of the most heinous of demands (i.e. exclusivity clauses). But beyond this, there is little clarity on what exactly a government could to, beyond work on wages that employers must pay.

Future?

Zero hour contracts, having had the exclusivity element removed, are no longer a tools for repression. They are far from perfect, but they are a useful tool to ensuring more flexibility in an era where traditional jobs seem to be disappearing fast. Careful legislation must continue to prune them when they threaten to strangle their hosts.

Budgeting for a Better or Broken Britain?

It is fair to say that the first Conservative budget since November 1996 has caused quite the reaction. This blog looks at changes introduced by the budget for individuals and companies. For the sake of context however, it is worth noting that the Chancellor, George Osborne, has promised savings totalling £34 billion – half from government budgets, £12 billion from welfare cuts, and £5 billion coming down on tax evasion.

1. Overview

  • Benefits

Those aged 18 – 21 will lose their (automatic) entitlement to housing benefits.

  • Business

The Northern Power house idea – at the national level, there has been an acceptance of a need to devolve power to the north – Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, and Leeds.

The Chancellor has signposted his readiness to ensure that the UK maintains the lowest corporation tax in of the G20 – the proposed aim being of 18%.

At the same banks were rewarded on one hand levies on a bank’s worldwide assets will be restricted to levies only on UK assets by 2020. But there will be an introduction of an 8% tax on annual profits.

  • Government and Welfare

Student maintenance grants will be cut from 2016. Instead, a loan of up to £8,200 will be available which will have to be repaid when the individual earns over £21,000.

Child benefit – tax credit and universal credit – is to be limited to the first two children, from April 2017.

More generally, tax credit changes will hit three million families who will lose an average of £1,000.

Public sector rises will be capped at 1% until 2019.

The NHS is being offered £8 billion.

Cap on benefits will be lowered from £26,000 to £23,000.

Working benefits will be stripped from those who are not disabled and have no children.

Rent payments for social housing will be cut by 1%, per year, for the next four years.

  • Income Tax

Two headline figures, relevant to everyone: on the one hand the 40p rate of tax was raised to £43,000, whilst on the other the threshold for basic tax was raised to £11,000, an increase of £400, on the way to the target of £12,500. This latter is projected to raise with the minimum wage. The former is part of an increase – the 40p rate is aimed to be applied to £50,000. According to the Chancellor this is will mean 29 million people will pay less tax.

  • Inheritance Tax

In the same vein as the 1996 budget, the inheritance tax was increased; then it was to £215,000. Now it has been increased to £1 million.

  • National Living Wage

Over 25s will have a minimum pay of £9 per hour by 2020 – which is 60% of median earnings. This will start in April 2016, with the figure being £7.20. This compares favourably to £6.50 for under 21s. This is estimated to concern 6 million people.

2. Commentary

This is a well-rounded budget. In 1996, the budget was the last budget for a government that was coming to its close – this is the budget of a newly mandated government Yet political pressures simply manifest them in a different, not lesser, way. During the campaign for the 2015 general elections, Mr. Osborne was seemingly aiming to have his photograph taken by every single employer in the UK.. But having obtained the support, it has been argued their resources are now needed to fund his other promises.

Whilst this analysis is persuasive, there is a further consideration: the language of working man has been used repeatedly by the Tories. Could it be that they actually mean? The budget is aimed at creating jobs and pushing people into those jobs – however well it does so, being an entirely different matter. When viewed in this narrative, the cuts on the corporation seems to be less a ‘pound of flesh’, than a seed from which to develop a stronger work force.

The big question is, of course, whether things will deteriorate for the worse off. Osborne has hung his budget on the fact that an individual working full time under the new National Minimum Wage would be better off even considering the cuts to benefits. The National Minimum Wage is applicable only to over 25s. Under 25s,  who are most in need because of their low employment rate, will be a cheaper labour source. Thus, they will be preferred to over 25s. As for the students, changing a grant into a loan does not impact the position of students at the moment. It also does not seem it will impact the ability experience – total funding for a student eligible for the maximum loan will be somewhere around £12,000 a year. Poverty of the parents should not mean that a student who perhaps emerges and gets a well-paying job should not be asked to pay back the money they were given for university. And  if they do not have a well-paying job they do not have to pay it back – this fairly well accepted fact seems to discredit any arguments that suggest that  Certainly, students who will have to pay the money back, might be more spend thrift of that money.

The impact of the budget on the wider political landscape has exposed to salient facts: firstly, Labour are evidently still reeling from their defeat given their lack of response. Secondly, there may now be substantial weight to the suggestion that Osborne and Boris will go toe to toe for the leadership of the Conservative Party post-Cameron.  This is clear by Osborne’s adoption of what Boris first championed; the living wage.