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The Guardian view on Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement: setting a trap for Labour | Editorial

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The government wants voters to think the economic question is about reducing debt rather than Tory failure

The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, wants to fight the last war. But fearmongering claims about record debts that worked for previous Tory chancellors, when voters could be scared into voting for austerity, are less persuasive at a time of recession. Next year, unemployment will jump as the economy shrinks by 1.4%. Households will record the biggest fall in disposable income since records began, and it won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until after 2028. Rents, energy bills and mortgages are all going up while house prices and real wages drop.

It is easy to see why Mr Hunt thinks that as long as the issue is controlling inflation or reducing debt, rather than the failure of Tory economic management, it may be that the government has a chance to prosper. He knows that elections are fought not between conflicting answers to the same question, but rather between conflicting questions.

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