The pressure is on. The Chancellor has to deliver. His Budget is a make or break moment for the government; a drink in the last chance saloon as Theresa May tries to wrestle back control of events and the political initiative she so spectacularly lost earlier this year. Philip Hammond knows that for the hour or so he is on his feet tomorrow he will hold the fate of the government in his hands.
It is clear that even a brilliant Budget is no guarantee of a political bounce back but one thing is guaranteed, a Budget that misses the spot tomorrow makes a Lazurus-esque comeback virtually dead in the water. Theresa May has shown an unfortanate knack for bad luck – to go with her poor political judgement and communication skills – and one fears that even a Treasury triumph tomorrow will be overshadowed by some scandal or calamity she could not prevent – after all her deputy is still under investigation – how long is that taking ?!! – for allegations of serous misconduct. But, Mrs May will hope that a Budget that captures the public mood can be a springboard for a brighter 2018.
A few things to consider. This is the penultimate Budget before Brexit. Surely it must contain some big announcements and ideas that help steer the country through the tricky waters that lie ahead? Jobs. R&D. Investment. Big projects. The future.
This is a Budget that comes at a time when the government seems to have lost it way. Surely it must contain something grand and visionary to show that it still has a plan for where it wants to take the UK. Note to the Chancellor; mouthing platitudes about a Britain that works for everyone is not the same as having a vision, a strategy and a plan.
This is a Budget that comes at a time when politics on the centre right seems devoid of big ideas. Surely it must contain at least one big idea – on housing ideally – to remake the political weather? Another meaningless announcement about 400,000 new homes will not do. Tomorrow is the time for game changing, huge, hairy ideas that will shape politics for the next five years and beyond. Time to be bold. Brave. Big. Confident.
Politically one thing in Mrs May’s favour is the polls. Despite the mess she and her government has been making of things, they remain neck and neck with Labour in the polls and their ratings hardly dip below 40%. If – and it’s a big if – I am not hopeful given his previous performances and the early signs coming out of Treasury over the weekend and today – the Chancellor can pull not just one rabbit but a whole collection of rabbits from the fiscal hat he and the government can have home of a political comeback. But – and it is a big but – he must set out a vision for the future; he must have big ideas to match that vision; and he must put a smile back on the country and his party’s face. Without that, he may commend his Budget to the House, but he will be condemned to the backbenchers sooner rather than later and his government will be looking for other work.
Photo taken from BBC News website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42054017