George Osborne's Autumn Statement - a Christmas present marked "Vote Conservative"

George Osborne came to the Commons, knowing he had some bad economic news to share with the nation. And he shared it -- before reaching into his economic Santa's sack and producing a big, shiny present.

The Chancellor announced a cut in stamp duty for 98% of homebuyers -- with only those shelling out around a-million pounds or more losing out.

For anyone buying a home for the average price of £275,000, the announcement saves them £4,500. On the average London home, the saving is even higher -- just under £5,000.

That's a nakedly political move -- calculated to win wavering voters to the Conservatives as surely as a straightforward cut in income tax.

But Chancellors normally produce big, shiny things when they don't want you to look over in the corner.

In that corner, you'll find Labour, shouting that his deficit reduction targets are "in tatters" -- and maybe they've got a point. The Chancellor had initially promised to eradicate the deficit by the end of this parliament -- a long-abandoned undertaking.

Mr Osborne's had to admit the public finances are in a poor state. The deficit is falling, but missing even his targets from earlier this year.

The problem for Ed Miliband and Ed Balls is that however loudly they proclaim the Chancellor's alleged failures, many voters simply won't hear them, because of George Osborne's headline-grabbing giveaway to homebuyers.

Analysis of the Chancellor's spending plans suggests a fall in public spending to levels last seen in the 1930s -- proposals described as "wholly unrealistic" by the Coalition's Business Secretary, Lib Dem Vince Cable, while Nick Clegg was nowhere to be seen in the Commons as George Osborne was speaking.

The big worry for his rivals is whether they'll be able to make any political capital out of this.

Inside the Treasury, Chancellors deal in detail -- but outside, successful Chancellors use broad strokes to paint a picture of the economy for a public that, generally speaking, isn't keen on poring over complex macro-economic data.

What matters is convincing voters that the economy is doing well, and by extension so are they -- or convincing them of the opposite, and that change is needed at the top.

Labour will talk about the deficit, and accuse Osborne and Cameron of broken promises. But they need to work out an equally attention-grabbing response to the Chancellor's dash for votes.

Having tried their hardest to take the credit for the Lib Dem policy of raising the tax-free allowance, the Conservatives now say they want to take full-time workers on the minimum wage out of tax entirely.

They've already announced plans to raise the higher rate threshold to £50,000 by the end of the decade, a policy designed to appeal to disgruntled middle-class voters.

Now, George Osborne has handed a big cash bonus to anyone planning to buy a home.

It's a strong political appeal to voters who'll prove vital in determining the outcome next May -- and Labour's challenge to is to come up with something equally big and shiny.