A nice steady-as-she-goes budget with no real surprises. It fits the Tory narrative (and the Lib Dem one, I suppose) of a well-managed economy. The UK grew 2.6% in 2014, faster than any other advanced economy, there is record employment in the UK, with jobless rate to fall to 5.3% this year, trade deficit figures “the best for 15 years” and living standards “higher” than in May 2010, according to OBR data, with households better off by an average of £900 in last five years. Who would have thought, compared to ‘the mess’ the coalition inherited when they came to power, that the UK economy would look so rosy?
So, a few little tax giveaways, including the raising of income tax thresholds and, despite the fall in oil prices, a freeze on fuel duty. Richer pensioners, global multi-national companies and bankers are being squeezed but the Tories know that these groups fear a Labour government would do worse.
Osbourne must be very pleased with himself. Labour won’t be able to lay a glove on him for economic mismanagement. When the polls are close and a voter is in the booth about to place an ‘x’ in a box, the economy is often the first thing that springs to mind.
The polls are neck & neck. The prediction is for a hung parliament. However, people still have a reluctance to admit to an intention to vote Tory, so, with the economic trump card, my feeling is that the Tories will do better than the polls suggest at the moment.
Labour are going to have to come up with something special to swing things their way. I doubt they have the capability.
I’m expecting a hung parliament with Tories still with the largest number of seats and lots of noisy minority parties shouting into microphones on Parliament Square.
Lord help us.
How was The Budget for you?