Edited out of my expert comment on the Budget on YTV’s Calendar last Wednesday (though they left in the important bits for the programme), was my view that if Gordon Brown became PM in the next six months there’d be another Budget in the Autumn.
That could explain why this was a neutral, take as much as he gave Budget, despite the meanness of £200 extra Council Tax for pensioners, which is the result of not renewing their rebate.
Gordon Brown is always thought to be old Labour, in contrast to Tony Blair being New Labour, but this was a New Labour budget, emphasising targetted – or means tested – benefits (old Labour’s creed was to get rid of means tests), more public finance initiative, and privatisation. Old Labour wanted, and in 1997 tried to promise, an end to this closeness with the private sector. Mind you, the template for the Tories’ privatisations in the 80s was laid in the 70s by the Callaghan government.
The Budget was then Gordon Brown’s New Labour manifesto for the succession. Does he know something we don’t, or was it another shove at the present occupant to be on his way?
And if he doesn’t go? My guess is that it will be Gordon Brown who introduces a second Budget in the Autumn to do what he needed to do on Wednesday. With sleight of hand, he’ll use the pre-budget report.