You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.On March 3 2020, Boris Johnson made that now infamous remark at his No.10 press conference that he was at a hospital with coronavirus patients “and I shook hands with everybody”. As Chris Whitty’s eyebrows headed northwards, the PM hastily added: “Washing your hands is the crucial thing.”Exactly one year and well over 100,000 deaths later, the PM has tried to wash his hands of most of his government’s failures on Covid. And as Rishi Sunak presented his Budget, it was clear the chancellor too wanted to present a sanitised version of his own record over the past year.There was no mention of Eat Out To Help Out, no mention of him repeatedly having to amend his furlough and other job plans, no mention of Sage’s calls for better self-isolation payments to tackle the pandemic in deprived areas. No mention either of the OBR’s warning last year that the PM’s thin Brexit deal would knock 4% off GDP, bigger even than the hit to the economy caused by the pandemic.What Sunak did have, however, was good news on lower than expected unemployment and higher than expected growth, as well as a big new package of Covid support that takes the total spending to a huge £407 billion. He also had a plan to take us to 2026: two years of tax cuts and spending rises (worth £67bn), followed by three years of big tax hikes (worth £66bn).With many Tory MPs allergic to taxes, it was perhaps no coincidence that Sunak took a big gulp of water just before he set out the sharp corporation tax increase. And although he claimed “honesty” was his watchword, he then rattled quickly through freezes in thresholds for personal taxes on income, pensions and inheritance, all effectively tax rises by stealth.There was studiously no mention of the extra £4bn in spending cuts for public services, on top of the £10bn extra announced in the spending review, and on top of many billions during the austerity years of Cameron and May (and still baked into some Johnson plans too). Treasury officials were open about this cut afterwards, but the chancellor himself clearly didn’t think it was worth a line in his speech.In one of his best Commons outings to date, Keir Starmer tried to demolish Johnson and Sunak’s fiction that this was a brand new government divorced from its Tory predecessors, pointing to the decade of cuts that have taken place since the 2010 election.With an eye clearly on Sunak becoming his regular opponent across the despatch box one day, Starmer even suggested the chancellor was personally responsible for the second wave of the pandemic – and all the economic damage that flowed from a longer lockdown – thanks to his opposition in Cabinet to a circuit-breaker in September.Starmer landed some punches on Sunak’s lack of any climate change stimulus, the total absence of social care funding or housing help. He was quick to note too that 2.4 million self-employed would continue to be excluded from government support. Jibes about the sheer self-regard of the chancellor’s Instagram game had more than the usual bite.The Labour leader was also keen to stress that for all Sunak’s talk of tax rises, the real agenda was one of tax cuts on the eve of the next election. Starmer said the proper basis for tax decisions was “the economic cycle, not the electoral cycle”. Add in all the pork barrel spending on freeports, towns funds, levelling up funds (including Sunak’s own well-heeled constituency) and this did look like a Budget with politics at its heart.But the problem for Starmer is that the electoral cycle really does matter. And the point about pork barrel spending is that it often works (look how impossible it has been to abolish Gordon Brown’s tax credits or winter fuel allowance). A cynic would suggest that the Conservatives welcome the Labour attacks because it reminds the voters of spending, not cutting. In former “red wall” seats, arguably neglected for years by all parties and Whitehall, ex-Labour voters may see this not so much as pork barrel but as payback for lending their votes to Johnson.My instant thought on seeing Sunak’s timetable for fiscal balancing today was that a 2023 general election looked more likely than ever. That’s the year that corporation taxes kick in, allowing the Tories to say they’re making the very rich pay for the aftermath of the pandemic (in a way the rich never did after the 2008 financial crisis). But it could also be the year that the “fiscal drag” of frozen personal taxes is suddenly halted.Sunak said he was “going long” on help for the pandemic recovery, yet the pressure will be to go short on the political recovery. Chatter about 2023 is rife among some Tory MPs (though with the boundary review that will net them extra seats due in June that year, maybe a September election is on the cards?).The real power of Sunak’s corporation tax hike is that it robs Labour of its own magic money tree, as much of the party’s spending plans since 2017 have been predicated on reversing the Osborne tax cuts to business. Labour would again be asked by the voters: well how will you pay for your promises then? (One small example: Starmer today said Labour would keep the uplift in Universal Credit “until a new, fairer system can be put in place”, without saying how he’d fund it).Starmer is also making a big bet that Sunak will somehow revert to Tory type. He claimed “one day we’ll all be able to take our masks off – and so will the chancellor”. But Sunak may be much smarter than that, delaying spending cuts until after an early election while taxing the richest. Tony Blair once anticipated Ed Miliband’s (and Corbyn’s) defeat by saying when a traditional leftwing party competes with a traditional rightwing party you get “the traditional result”. That result is even harder when a growth-and-spend Labour party faces a growth-and-spend Tory party.With a love of Brexit often the only thing that unites Johnson’s coalition of former Labour and traditional Tory voters, the yo-yo dieting on business tax announced by Sunak (big tax cuts for two years then a whopping rise) felt very much like a government desperate for firms to invest as soon as possible to make up for the hit to trade from the PM’s thin deal with Brussels.At least Starmer began today to spot that he could make headway by arguing for a “smarter Brexit” that better protected jobs and businesses. And although Sunak is popular now, if his own gamble on a sustained recovery is blown off course, rising unemployment and continued stagnant wages could mean big drops in Tory support. Boarded up shops on high streets could become the 2020s equivalent of derelict 1980s factories.Government incompetence is still Labour’s best shot at winning the next election, but it will also need “lockdown fatigue” to be replaced by “Tory fatigue”, a sense that after 13 or 14 years it’s time for a fresh start and a new party in power. Rishi Sunak signalled in this Budget that he’s ready to do “all that it takes” to prevent that from happening.Related...5 Announcements In The Budget That Rishi Sunak Won't Be Mentioning On InstagramRishi Sunak’s Own Well-Off Seat Prioritised For Levelling Up Cash In BudgetBudget 2021: Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal Will Shrink UK Economy By 4%, Watchdog Says
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A new release of Android 12 in a Developer Preview version 1.1 was delivered today, March 3, 2021. This release was given build number SPP1.210122.022, complete with emulator support including x86 (64-bit), and ARM (v8-A) just like its predecessor. This release includes a March 2021 security patch and Google Play services 21.02.14. This version of Android 12 includes a collection … Continue reading
Rishi Sunak has been accused of “divide and rule” tactics after his own constituency was made a priority for the government’s levelling up fund.The district of Richmondshire is listed as a category one area which will be given preference by the government when it is deciding which areas to give cash from the £4.8bn fund. The district falls entirely within chancellor’s Richmond parliamentary seat.In a prospectus published alongside his Budget, Sunak said the fund was intended to support investment in places “where it can make the biggest difference to everyday life, including ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and coastal communities”.But Richmondshire, a mainly agricultural area which also attracts tourism as it covers a large part of the Yorkshire Dales, is one of the least deprived areas in England, ranking at 251 out of 317 on the government’s own index of deprivation.Treasury sources said Sunak had no sight of the specific areas that would be deemed high priority for the levelling up fund, although ministers were able to see a provisional map showing how the cash would be spread under the categories.Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis questioned why Richmondshire was prioritised over the city (93nd on the deprivation index) and nearby Barnsley (38th), which are both in category two.He accused the government of pursuing a “divide and rule” approach, highlighting that Sunak also used the budget to announce a new Treasury campus in Darlington, which neighbours his Richmond seat.Jarvis said: “A cursory glance at the government’s criteria for the levelling up fund is symbolic of their divide and rule approach. “The chancellor has identified his own Richmond seat as ‘category one’ and relocated his Treasury office to a neighbouring constituency, but has labelled places like Barnsley and Sheffield as ‘category two’ – pushing them to the back of the queue for economic support.“Ministers must change their approach, or they will put the country on course for a deeply divided recovery.”The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) placed areas into three categories according to their need for economic recovery and growth, for improved transport connectivity, and for regeneration.The controversy comes following concerns that the towns fund, also run by MHCLG, was targeted at key marginal seats the Tories wanted to win in the 2019 general election.Asked at a Downing Street press conference if he was using the levelling up fund for “naked pork barrel politics”, Sunak said: “The formula for the grant payments for the new fund to give them some capacity funding to bid for projects is based on an index of economic need, which is transparently published actually I think by MHCLG based on a bunch of objective measures.”He went on: “And remember, that’s only areas that have received some capacity funding to bid – no area is excluded for bidding it’s just that those areas on the basis of this formula might need a bit of extra help, so we’re giving those local areas some money to put their bid together to help them.”Labour’s shadow communities secretary Steve Reed said: “Just months after the government was criticised for diverting funding away from towns that desperately needed it, we discover that cabinet ministers own constituencies now stand to benefit ahead of more deprived areas. “This government should be investing to rebuild the foundations of our economy, but they’re pulling the country further apart by pitting regions and nations against each other for crucial funding then diverting the money to serve their own party’s needs.”Related...Universal Credit £20 A Week Increase Extended For Six MonthsBudget 2021: Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal Will Shrink UK Economy By 4%, Watchdog SaysRishi Sunak's Budget Explained In Two Minutes
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Valve released a Linux version of its Steam Link app, allowing the connectivity system to work on even MORE devices than before. This is just the latest in a line of operating systems made available to work with Steam Link, including Windows, Android, iOS, and Raspberry Pi. And it’s all free, provided you have a Steam account and own a … Continue reading
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The Motorola One 5G Ace offers a big 6.7-inch screen, 5G support, and a hefty battery. But is it better than the Pixel 4a 5G? We put the two phones to the test.
Scientists have used an algorithm to read an unopened letter written 300 years ago — without breaking its seal. The note had been securely shut through an archaic process known as “letterlocking.” The method was used to secure written communications for centuries before the widespread adoption of envelopes in the 1830s. The intricate system of folds, tucks, and slits effectively turns the paper into its own envelope. Often, the notes were then sealed and rigged with anti-tamper devices. The method was used by both everyday people and historical figures from Queen Elizabeth I of England to Marie Antoinette. While the concealed letters contain valuable insights… This story continues at The Next Web
Ready or not, here I come! The next version of Windows 10 is most definitely inbound after Microsoft began forcing the code onto its loyal band of unpaid testers last night as a "recommended update."…
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) market is a non-invasive imaging technology that generates three-dimensional, comprehensive anatomical pictures.It is focused on advanced technology that stimulates and recognizes changes in the orientation of the rotation axis of the protons discovered in the water that makes up the living tissues.MRI enables your doctor to diagnose a disease or wound and can monitor how well you're doing with your therapy.It is particularly helpful when searching at smooth tissues and the nervous system.It may be used to assist diagnose or track therapy for a number of circumstances in the heart, abdomen and pelvis.Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) market is registering a substantial CAGR of 5.60% in the forecast period of 2019-2026.This rise in the market can be attributed to the new helium deposits invention, technological innovations in MRI and rise focus on replacing low-field MRI systems with high-level MRI systems.This Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Market research report intensely analyses the potential of the market with respect to current scenario and the future prospects by considering several industry aspects of Cardinal Health industry.
The global Compressed Air Treatment Equipment Market is expected to value at USD 11.2 billion by 2025.The market is subject to witness a substantial growth due to the growing concerns related to air pollution and increasing number of application in industrial sector.Growing awareness level among general population regarding air quality and development of sophisticated devices in manufacturing sector is expected to favor market growth over the next seven years.Growing adoption of compressed air treatment equipment for air treatment helps to maintain compressed air system in optimized shape and removes humidity.Compressed air treatment equipment plays a vital role in removing residual humidity, thus obtain dry air for several end use applications.The compressed air treatment equipment market is broadly categorized into five major segments based on the application type such as chemical industry, paper& paperboard sector, food & beverages industry, pharmaceutical sector and healthcare industry.