Much of the meat of the Autumn Statement has already been briefed, which raises the question of what’s left to get excited about tomorrow. There will likely still be a number of crowd-pleasing announcements, but ministers are clearly keen to clear some space on the decks to focus on the figures that George Osborne will announce on the deficit and the updated growth forecasts. And a lightly-filled rather than overflowing goody bag from the Chancellor also gives him the opportunity to drive home his message about the ‘responsible recovery’ and a responsible government, rather than one that starts handing out prizes the moment the recovery appears on the horizon.

David Cameron dropped some hints on the focus on the long-term rather than short-term goodies in his interview with the BBC this lunchtime, saying:

‘We have been working to a long-term plan and what you’re going to see in this Autumn Statement is the next step in that long term plan – a long-term plan to turn the country around, to get us out of our difficulty with debt and deficit, and to secure jobs and recovery for all our people. A recovery for all: that is what we want to see.

‘Now, of course, we are going to be looking ahead to a time when, yes, if the economy continues to grow and, as it were if the sun continues to shine, we should be fixing the roof when the sun is shining – what the last government failed to do – and that means, yes, not just getting rid of our deficit but in good years trying to put some money aside. That is what Britain should be trying to do.’

James reported last week that some of Osborne’s colleagues are worried that he might try to ‘bank’ the recovery, suggesting that it is a done deal by getting too excited about he good figures that he’s expected to unveil tomorrow. The message that the party wants to go for is ‘let us finish the job’, rather than suggest that the end of that job is in sight and that there’s somehow scope for a big spending party like Labour to come back in for a jolly time.

Tags: Autumn Statement 2013, David Cameron, UK politics