Thursday afternoon, and I’m having to play catch-up. Yesterday, as the weather was pleasant, and nobody was going to be bothered about what I thought of the Budget (a thought that has not yet entered the heads of some of my fellow bloggers), I went out and about the north-west travelling, meeting people and generally chilling.
So the first Budget analysis I sat down to was last night’s edition of The Inquisition of Pax Jeremiah, which told me that Paxo delights in asking questions that he knows the interviewee isn’t going to answer. He can then continue to say that politicians don’t answer his questions.
What of the Budget? Alistair Darling doesn’t do soaring rhetoric, so it was necessary to actually listen to what he said. The forecast numbers may be optimistic, but those resorting to countering with the IMF equivalents need to bear in mind that the latter body has been less optimistic than the Government for more than a decade, and usually proved wrong.
And the opposition? I do wonder why the opposite numbers to the Chancellor, the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, and World’s Most Agreeable Politician (tm) Vince Cable, can’t respond for their parties. Doesn’t David Cameron have any faith in the abilities of the Heir to the Seventeenth Baronet? Is Corporal Clegg frightened that Cable will steal his thunder? In any case, the act that got noticed, as was no doubt the intention, was Cameron.
Other commentators have now noticed, as I have for some time, that Cameron’s performances at the Dispatch Box are not spontaneous. The rehearsal extends beyond the words into gestures and attitude. The faux anger of yesterday’s response was good for Tory morale, but little else: it’s the same as ever, getting himself worked up to shout down all those jolly stupid types on the other side, while telling us that he and his fellow rather good chaps are fed up and jolly angry about it.
There are dramatic arm movements; the pile of notes is left in disarray. Yet underneath everything, there is no idea of how Cameron the opposition leader would act in Government, except of course that acting as he is now doing – play acting – will not tackle economic woes, international affairs, energy security, climate change, or, of course, expenses.
The Coulson claptrap machine drives on. But we are none the wiser.