After a week of press briefings and speculation, this was a carefully constructed Budget appealing to the country, the electorate and the Conservative core vote. After announcing this weekend that this would be a no gimmicks Budget, the Chancellor built on much of the positive work he started last year. Having learnt the lessons from 2012, which was a political disaster and saw the Chancellor’s personal ratings take a nose dive, this was a competent and solid display.
With strong economic data to support him, the Chancellor continued to drive a clear wedge between economic competence presented by the blue team and that of incompetence presented by the red one. Supported by strong economic data, with the economy expected to grow by 2.5% this year and 2.3% in 2016, 2017 and 2018, he confidently announced further infrastructure investment and greater devolution through the New City Deal.
This national message was supported with carefully constructed announcements for voters. The Chancellor built on the highly successful announcements of 2014 by extending annuity and ISA reform. In addition, a claim to pull ‘ten pounds off a tank with the Tories’, reductions in beer, cider and scotch whisky, and increases in the personal allowance threshold, set the tone for what he hopes will be an election winning Budget.
This was a confident, solid and pragmatic Chancellor. The choice he presented to the country today is simple. Do we want ‘to return to the chaos of the past or do we choose the future?’ With speculation rife that the Prime Minister may go to the Palace sometime next week, the battle lines have been drawn. Let the final stage of this long battle commence!
To guide you through today’s key announcements and what they are likely to mean for the closely fought campaign which awaits us, Edelman has prepared a briefing which you can view and download here.