As a Treasury Minister, apprehension always hung heavy in the air on the day before a Budget. Would centrepiece polices come across clearly? Would problems we wanted to downplay loom large? Would the Budget go down well with our MPs, with the media and above all with the public? Today George Osborne has much to be apprehensive about. Four months ago in the Spending Review he insisted that the economy was on the up and so "the savings we need are considerably smaller". This week he's been touring TV studios warning that "the storm clouds are clearly gathering" and that billions of pound of fresh cuts now need to be made.
This Budget reminds me of Bill Murray's Groundhog Day. I looked back at a blog I wrote on George Osborne's 2011 budget, and as well as feeling old, I feel repetitive. Over the past seven years budget after budget has been deemed regressive. This budget looks to be no different... The cumulative impact of seven years of regressive budgets has been dire for women and the most vulnerable in society.
It is no secret that Jeremy Clarkson's departure from the team has left the programme needing to find its cutting edge. The BBC would never admit it but its biggest grossing programme became so successful because of the ridiculous issues its presenters got it into. Bad news is really good publicity. Honest.
With further cuts to public spending expected tomorrow, my request to the Chancellor is to look to the industry that's proved it can deliver results. Making small amounts of capital available to help companies develop, exploit and commercialise their own IP can act as a catalyst for future growth and scale. Fundamentally this means backing ideas and taking risks.
Though it's never yet been run, I wish somebody could start up a popularity contest to decide, once and for all, who is The Most Awful Brit Alive Toda...
It's been easy to miss given the dominance of Europe, but George Osborne must stand before the Commons tomorrow in a very tricky predicament to delive...
'Support for savers' was meant to be one of the key Budget themes. Until recently it seemed likely that the Chancellor would be announcing a radical shake-up of pension saving. But in the face of fierce of opposition from industry, the media and many backbench MPs, the Treasury has now ruled out any changes to pension tax relief in this Budget...
On Wednesday George Osborne will deliver his Budget speech in the Commons for the seventh year running. Over that time, the rhetoric that 'we are all in this together' has faded and evidence has mounted that women and those on low incomes have borne the brunt of austerity policies.
John McDonnell's proposed Fiscal Credibility rule is a break with Osborne's failing "fiscal mandate". Osborne misses every target he sets himself to shrink the deficit. He said he'd clear the deficit entirely by now, but he's £70billion wide of that. He can only meet his target for reducing debt by selling off government-owned assets. And you'd be hard pushed to find a single credible economist who would support Osborne's restrictions on government investment.
From the SNP benches, the real opposition, there will be an alternative. An alternative that prioritises investment, exports, productivity, innovation. That seeks to support our key industries like manufacturing and oil and gas. And that seeks to do manage the economy in the interests of all, and not the few.
Over the last few weeks, councils have been putting together budgets that struggle with yet another round of severe cuts designed in Downing Street. As ever, the Tories cling to the gross deception that councils can somehow cut two thirds out of their budgets without affecting frontline services.
Osborne will claim his Chancellorship a success next Wednesday but he has failed to meet the benchmarks against which he said we should judge him when he moved into No 11 Downing. And which group, above all else, has paid the price for his failure and are now being punished as Osborne seeks to retrieve something in time for the Tory leadership election? Our young people.
This morning Facebook UK announced - via the BBC's Kamal Ahmed - that it would start booking sales in the UK. So, welcome news. But (and you knew I was going to say this) let's not get carried away.
Being an optimist I do have hope and faith. I know that my job might be harder in Opposition to deliver on the pledges we have made, but I also know that it is more important than ever to make sure not only do we hold this government to account and expose it's continuous failures which effect places like Bradford West, but also that we make sure we win 2020.
Basic Income is a serious proposal necessary to address many of the economic problems facing the developed world. Let us start by defining what Basic ...
The government's plans would see prohibitions limiting large stores from opening on Sundays for more than six hours lifted in certain circumstances. The decision would be devolved to local leaders across England and Wales (Scotland and Ireland already have powers over Sunday trading devolved to their regional parliaments).