Like anyone with a degree of pragmatism, I usually wait until the financial press have gathered all the data of the Budget before taking a view on what it has actually served up. Indeed, the usual situation is that unless you are a masochistic drinker or driver, it is best to avoid the whole event. However, this year some 50 days before the General Election the event is politically charged. So politically charged that it could be argued that it should not have been allowed to be served up in such proximity to the vote. But it has been and it has essentially been a walkover for the Chancellor and the Tories.
This is not surprising given the way that coming from their privileged background they know all the tricks of the trade as far as money, tax and finance is concerned. Not coming from a posh background myself, I feel I can speak with objectivity in terms of what a walkover the Pork Barrel Budget has been. The tax allowance rises, the help to buy ISAs, and a timely £40bn windfall all show how far behind the curve Labour and its tax and spend (too much) approach is. All Ed Milliband’s party would appear to have is a menu of spending, with no agenda on wealth creation. And wealth creation is certainly required to save its Sacred (Cash Burning) Cow, the NHS. This project is one that makes HS2 look like value for money and the EU seem almost non bureaucratic and efficient.
In fact, the Budget was such a winner that our friends in the Opposition, who are now likely to be in Opposition for another five years, could only muster one criticism, that there was only a passing mention of the organisation which burns over £100bn a year. Coincidentally, this is almost exactly the figure that the current Coalition has increased the National Debt in per year since 2010. In other words, the concept is an unsustainable mistake. But suggesting this is of course a vote loser, hence George Osborne remaining tight lipped on the subject. He is right to do so. Too many people have a blind spot on this matter, even though private insurance (with the odd subsidy) would be far more efficient and most likely mean that taxes for all could be reduced by a significant amount. This is of course before taking into account what could be saved in terms of medical tourism.
But returning to the nuts and bolts of what was revealed in the Budget, we have the increased growth forecast, the way that the average household is £900 better off than 5 years ago, unemployment heading towards 5% and reduced deficit forecasts and borrowing.
Indeed, it would appear that apart from sweeping the NHS under the carpet, everything else has been orchestrated/timed to perfection. It is often said that politics is a matter of luck as much as judgement, and for Cameron’s Coalition this looks as though it will be the case. A good example of this may come from the stock market, where the FTSE 100 is now back at record levels after a triple digit rally. The worst thing for Labour could be that over the next 7 weeks or so we see leading UK stocks rally beyond 7,000 on delayed interest rate rise hopes in the U.S., and soothed by the prospect of a Conservative/LibDem/UKIP Alliance. This currently looks to be what is on the cards.