Those of you at our post-Budget reception in Parliament last Thursday heard GUIDE’s Chief Exec, Greig Baker, citing the golden rule of Budgets: the tone of the headlines the next day is always reversed by the weekend. This year’s Budget conformed perfectly, with commentators’ complaints of an uneventful and reserved statement being blown out of the water by a series of explosive political revelations, topped off by IDS’s resignation.
The ‘golden rule’ holds because Chancellors either want to make a boring Budget exciting, or a dull one interesting. Either way, they spin it as much as they can, which only serves to alienate the colleagues and journalists made to feel hoodwinked and manipulated – and who then exact their revenge for weeks, long after the first morning’s headlines have been forgotten. The only surprise in this ritual is that otherwise politically astute Chancellors keep making the same mistake.