Anticipating the Budget

What’s happening with the Budget? Over lunch yesterday with some tax experts it dawned on us that the usual speculative background chatter over the contents of the Budget simply wasn’t happening. Leaks and speculation have usually started by this stage ahead of a Budget but the airwaves seem empty at the moment.
The clashes reported this week between No 10 and 11 might gives us a clue. Apparently the two departments have been bickering over the content of the Budget which makes me wonder if the toing and froing over policy measures has prompted some indecision over the date.
Of course the date for the Budget will also be a function of the date No 10 has in mind for the General Election (thought most likely to be May 6), if that’s been decided. A Budget will be a starting pistol for the campaigning. There had been rumours circulating that the Budget could be March 10 or 17. The 10th, of course, is less than two weeks away, so it’s starting to look unlikely. A Budget on 17th would give Brown around six weeks to campaign for the election. Putting the Budget off until the last week in March would reduce campaigning time. But a short campaign might be seen as working in Brown’s favour. That said, his position in the polls makes it difficult to know how he could improve his election chances with timing alone.
But a spat over Alistair Darling’s plans for the economy might also be affecting things. Given how much depends on the Budget, I for one would like to know when it’s going to happen. Please put us out of our misery. I’m trying to book some time off and the unknown Budget date is getting in the way.

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