Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Whatever happened to Budget Purdah?

Today's array of headlines are shameful: not those concerning the war, but those disclosing George Osborne's intentions as he deliver's Budget 2011. Many are not at all speculative, but apparently quite authoritatively informed. By whom?

There was a time when Budget was shrouded ('purdah' is Persian for 'curtain') and none in government would discuss in advance any matters which related to it. There is virtually no point the Chancellor delivering his speech today: we already know there will be an increase in the personal income tax allowance; that the rise in fuel duty will be cancelled; that first-time buyers are to be helped on to the housing ladder with a £250,000 fund; and that some announcement will be made on tax reform to merge National Insurance and Income Tax.

The media are frequently using the future tense or the periphrastic form for the immediate future; it is 'will', 'is going to' and 'is about to'. The unknown conditionals have disappeared. There is no 'may' or 'is expected to' or 'is hoped'. There is is no 'could', 'should' or 'might'. We have instead pages of authoritative comment on what the Chancellor will say: we have the facts. Has the budget been systematically and purposely leaked, or are we dealing with increasingly prophetic journalists? We already know from the Prime Minister (no less) that motorists are to be helped. But when the Chancellor himself (and his acolyte Matthew Hancock MP) are touring the television studios just a week before the Budget, we can take their fiscal 'hopes' and 'aspirations' as formal policy announcements.

Leaks are nothing new, of course. But Speaker Bercow was elected to his present position with a zero-tolerance pledge: ministers are obliged to inform Parliament before spinning to the media. There will probably be no rebuke, and His Grace is content to use that adverb, for, unlike the mainstream media, he is neither 'reliably informed' nor prophetic.


Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Osborne says that there will be no new regulations to be applied to firms with 10 or less staff.

Illegal! Doesn't he know that it is forbidden not to apply EU rules?

And why doesn't he and Cameron just state that we are leaving the EU and save £6 billion?

We know it makes sense.

23 March 2011 at 14:03  
Blogger Gnostic said...

It's not the time of delivery, it's the content that matters most. Freezing the duty on fuel won't stop the cost of fuel rising and with it the cost of living.

Prices are going to continue rising and so are taxes. This is a budget that will in no way stimulate the economy. It is a rabbit caught in the headlights of a runaway eighteen wheeler budget.

23 March 2011 at 15:25  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Perhaps it is best to be gradual with unfortunate news ,even if left over from a previous government .

This will still mean some very hard going for many people .I am a little wary of allowing development without much thought , but he has pointed out the green belt will be protected. I think the rebalancing is vital wether the city is jittery or not . There was quite a bit of detail rather than headlines , but it seems he has placed the economy in a position that allows growth to happen . I suspect the lag of personal credit lump will still cause problems , which is perhaps why i am with the keep any rate rises small and over long periods , not least because it should allow any new business and SMEs to at least see there costs better . What is clear is how terrible the debt is , with the potential to suck any growth up without any real wealth occurring in the economy , indeed not only as ken Clark once said "debt is taxation deferred" but debt is the normal wealth creation of work and trade deferred.
The goverment jobs if properly reformed should ensure that more stable platform , as those liabilities can behave like debt.

I am more impressed with the sensible approach to ensuring the debt is reduced whilst keeping the need for business to be created or reformed.the efforts on ensuring what money we have to invest actually works and is not wasted is vital.

for anyone who watched PMQs beforehand , there was an memorable ed expression moment of poor brief when he asked about mobility element on disability living allowance .It is a long time since i have seen so much disappere from supporting an attacking question , in such a simple answer.

23 March 2011 at 18:19  
Anonymous Gareth said...

"The media are frequently using the future tense or the periphrastic form for the immediate future"

I think His Grace means that the newpapers have been using strong epistemic modal verbs. Of course this correction is not withour admiration: the man thinks in Greek grammar.

23 March 2011 at 20:08  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

No one saw the extra tax on Oil and Gas in the North Sea coming!

The point of 'secrecy' is to avoid anyone taking advantage and personally gaining by inside information.

Anyway, we know our politicians for the most part are self-serving and spineless. No moral fibre in politicians.

But - no harm, no foul.

23 March 2011 at 23:20  
Anonymous not a machine said...

I think I shall sign off for a while .It is a considerable dilemma for me, politics or green example .I perhaps could employ more people and help the economy rather than blogg goodness knows there is lot of politics.

If I may say despite my critiscisms and reservations , perhaps more so about if the lib dem coalition would be a disaster , it seems it may work for some good with the provider that it is not forgotten that the country was got into a mess by the very same people that currently sit, there is a latent public mandate , nay trial by fire , that if found to be playing the same frauds as before there will be trouble. The public/country is paying a high price for wonk spun hype.
I remain doubtful in some areas , but pleased to see/hear that some important matters have been looked at with some guts . I cannot criticise education and its re look at how people are made , and I hope it carrys on until there is a quality of teacher and tutorlige , that contributes to society once more and creates the sort of people that have and education and not a propoganda episode.

The attacks on healthcare are perhaps to do with how complex healthcare is .ensuring it becomes health-care and not mere processing of diagnosis should not be lost.

The economic problems are considerable and i personally doubt that some of the growth touted to be from the IT age was little more than efficiency gains .The better accountancy towards spending other peoples money should help and is perhaps the most conservative aspect of anything politically good .having had a propogandised wonk ecnomic theory goverment , what real macro enomic theories and outcomes emerge from rebalancing , should point the way to being very carefull. Centralised ultra efficent economies are so interdependent that busts or booms are no longer matters of time , but of functionality . I do not like it , it brings into question how much local economies/markets are the sort of plain shared capitalism that has been destroyed , in that wealth generated does not show healthy well managed local economies that are working with there problems , against those that are failing.
That is the problem of centralised economies , booms do not make up for balanced activities . A more balanced economy should relieve local councils of grants, but again they have to run better as well .
public sector pay has had some real horror stories and yet the one area where it did some good , with ave wage/ pt workers serving there community , has been jeaopordised by the expensed propoganda story seen in nearly every service going under labour , and perhaps the lesson is it should never have been used in this ultimately fraudulent way.

problems aside , i think this goverment has the potential to do the work that should/must be done , so despite all the bruising and agression , the right questions have been asked and some improved thinking has occured ,and I am sure we rightly defeated a direction for this country that was toxic and flawed , I do not doubt nor should we forget that god had a hand in it:)

24 March 2011 at 01:56  

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