The Chancellor's luck will run out before the next general electionby John McTernan / March 16, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: Budget 2016: the Prospect panel
There is a theme to George Osborne’s Budgets. After eight of them (and six autumn statements and two comprehensive spending reviews) that’s not really a surprise.
There are the targets regularly set—and the targets missed, just as regularly. The jokes that are unfunny—even by the low standards set by the Commons. The stealing of announcements from other ministers. The devil in the detail. The major changes announced without consultation. The far from compelling rabbit pulled from the hat. And, of course, the attempt to shoe-horn it all into a theme.
Today’s Budget was no different. We had the concession on missed targets (the Chancellor was aiming for debt to fall as a proportion of GDP, but it has not done). We had jibes about Jeremy Corbyn and the Liberal Democrats which there is no point in repeating; having lost the will to live while hearing them there I certainly have no intention of retyping them. Announcements on maths teaching (which may be made compulsory until age 18) and a longer school day were lifted from the Secretary of State for Education. The announcement of New Mayors, including the Mayor (Thane perhaps?) of East Anglia, were lifted from the Department of Communities and Local Government. Not forgetting the bathetic plan to refurbish the Hall for Cornwall venue, which was taken from a bin somewhere in Whitehall.
Masses of revenue from Corporation Tax has been shuffled between years, in order to give the illusion that Osborne will his target of a fiscal surplus. There was also a sly introduction of the pension ISA which could undermine the success of auto-enrolment—one of the last remaining sensible parts of our pension system. There was the sugar tax. And all of it wrapped up as a budget for the “next generation.” It would be laughable, if it wasn’t so sad.
This apology for a Budget—the fourth in a year—should have been loudly laughed out of the Commons. The Chancellor has apparently only just discovered since the end of November (16…