Ed Conway at Sky has just tweeted this graphic showing just how unusual it is for a pre-election Budget not to be a giveaway one.
People largely expected a big rabbit to be plucked from the Chancellor’s hat. But – as with every year he has been in office – we still have debts, we still have a deficit, we still have a lot to do to make up lost ground, so no giveaways, as he promised on Sunday on Andrew Marr.
And yet – this Budget does a huge amount, both practically and rhetorically. What new spending there is supports innovation. New and revised tax breaks support jobs, work, responsibility and saving. It is, as he said, about choices. It is about choosing to prepare for our future. It is about choosing to support the right things. It is about choosing to make a case for outward engagement. And it’s about the choice that will face us on 7 May, and what that means next.
Choosing to prepare for our future is the thing that caught my ear. That is why I campaigned and worked for David Cameron early on, and that is why I vote Conservative. It is about creating the environment and the circumstances for opportunity to be taken advantage of by all. I have been a little gloomy about the lack of sunshine in the Tories’ offer – that poster of the road needed a destination. Explaining why we are doing what we do, what it means, where it will take us – that is as important as actually doing it.
This election campaign’s very strong and welcome focus on the economy, and what a successful economy means for citizens, has meant that some of the less simple but hugely important and long-term achievements of this government do not get talked about enough. But they too are essential to the choice we will make on 7 May. This Budget frames a great record and a big ambition; the choices we are making now are the right ones to prepare us for what the world is going to be like in 5, 10, 25 years time.