Tag Archives: Budget 2015

Free of his pesky Liberal Democrat coalition partners, George Osborne was last week finally able to present a “totally Tory” budget – the first since 1996. With a Parliamentary majority, and a general election the best part of five years away, the Chancellor was well-placed to do what Conservatives are supposed to do, taking further steps to get our public finances in order. Except that he didn’t.

Since last week’s Commons set piece, Osborne has rightly won political plaudits. His package of measures displayed trademark strategic acumen and rhetorical guile. By putting welfare cuts front-and-centre and finally pledging to spend 2pc of GDP on defence, the Chancellor burnished his credentials among the Tory faithful, positioning himself for the party leadership contest which, it is widely assumed, will take place later this Parliament.
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“The sun is starting to shine and we’re fixing the roof,” said a svelte-looking George Osborne. While last week’s budget involved a touch of fiscal loosening, and some predictably ridiculous statistical sleight of hand five years hence, the most important aspect of the Chancellor’s final Commons outing before the election was that he didn’t open the sluice gates and let public spending rip.

Yes, I know the pace of fiscal consolidation in the next Parliament, on these budget-day plans, is to be a bit slower, with a surplus of £7bn expected in 2019-20 rather than the £23bn outlined in the Autumn Statement. As such, the Tories will now apparently miss, just, reducing government spending as a share of GDP “to its lowest level since the 1930s”.

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