Prudence is sacrificed for cute-hoor politics
Published 14/10/2015 | 02:30
'Don't leave anything behind you on the pitch, before you return to this dressing room. No regrets." These are usually the last words of a top motivational coach. Similarly, only a fool would expect Coalition ministers to leave spare cash in the Exchequer coffers as they maximise their prospects in the great electoral quest. Budget 2016 is an election giveaway, pure and simple; overshadowed by something cooked up a little earlier.
This Budget was designed for door-to-door sales. Just like old industrial-branch, pension-and-life-assurance reps calling around with a patter of potential benefits, inducements and incentives. It was crafted by creative marketers, appealing to electorate segments - pensioners, workers, farmers, carers, self-employed, parents and families. All will have been rigorously stress-tested with qualitative research from focus groups.
So where's the big banana skin? It's devoid of nasty or insidious, mean cuts. If there is an Achilles heel, it is to be found in the flawed fiscal credibility as a consequence of manoeuvrings at the tail-end of 2015. Despite all the responsibility rhetoric set out in the Spring Statement, a total expansionary envelope of €1.5bn magically became €3bn.