And so, once again, we come to that time of the year. Parliament finally looks to be functioning again, after the extremely long break and conference season. The Chancellor is putting the finishing touches to the Budget. For one point in the Parliamentary calendar, the Treasury gets it’s place in the sun. The junior civil servants who sit round their tables in the Whitehall canteens most days can finally believe that their arduous work for Spreadsheet Phil has payed off.
In old times, the public used to wait for this time with anticipation, ignorant of what was inside the red box. It would be like an early Father Christmas present, though the orange at the bottom was replaced by some scathing report from the Office of Budget Responsibility or some other wonky centre that sounds like an organisation Walter Mitty would work for. These days, we already know most of what Philip Hammond will say at 3:30 this afternoon. We already know of the large swathes of money being ploughed into popular issues such as mental health and the fall of the high street. Leaks are not dealt with and both the press and Jeremy Corbyn have drawn up plans to respond, unlike the former days when the drama of the Commons would be that the Leader of the Opposition had to come up with a response. All of that is now gone. Corbyn will have pre-scripted lines to deliver and the Chancellor will respond with the usual about jobs and growth. What fun.