It’s the last Treasury questions before the Budget today, and MPs will have a final chance to push the Chancellor on what it is that they want from the Budget.
There are those who are instinctively loyal to the Tory leadership and want a Budget that comes and goes without fireworks or failures. ‘Just steady as she goes, please,’ one loyalist says. Within that group are MPs who are desperate for a cost of living Budget. Then there are those MPs who are not loyal, and who, even if they don’t admit it, would quite like a messy Budget that shows George Osborne up.
A wider group of backbenchers includes those who are nervous that Osborne isn’t quite the strategic genius he’s often sold as. They are the ones who are happy to have open discussions about their fears for the Budget in the tearooms and corridors, sometimes in hearing distance of Labour and Lib Dem MPs. They are nervous that there won’t be much more than a gesture on the cost of living which won’t do enough to help voters feel that things are getting better.
And then there are those who, like Liam Fox, think the government needs to be much, much more radical. George Osborne can’t give each group all they want, but he’ll be hoping that next week’s announcement contains at least one measure which sates them sufficiently to calm things down.
There’s also the question whether those measures make it out of the Treasury and have a real effect on the economy rather than just the mood in the Tory party. George Freeman is down on the Order Paper to ask the Chancellor ‘what assessment he has made of the effect of measures he announced in the 2010 and 2011 budgets’, while two Labour MPs are asking about progress on implementing the National Infrastructure Plan. Some less charitable Tory MPs are worried that the government hasn’t made the progress it should have done on the latter.
Others are frustrated that the good bits in these announcements tend to get forgotten, and are as worried about the ability of the Downing Street press machine to sell the positive side of the Budget as they are about its contents. Many believe the party could do better at telling voters about the personal tax allowance, for instance.Tags: Budget, George Osborne, UK politics