This afternoon I bumped into the BBC’s Michael Crick in Portcullis House. He can often be spotted there, fishing for the next good story. He asked me what I thought of the Budget and he looked a little glum so I asked him what he thought of it. He described it as “dull”. I tried to offer an interesting line – Premiership footballers would no longer be able to avoid paying huge amounts of tax. I thought I sensed a spark of interest, but it quickly disappeared. An extra £2 billion for the Green Investment Bank, which will start a year earlier than planned – that got little more than a yawn. Further investment in rail infrastructure for Manchester to increase capacity and reduce journey times – all very worthy but it won’t affect Michael’s tram journey to Old Trafford to watch United. The £1000 increase in the personal allowance and confirmation that it will increase to £8105 by 2012, taking 1.1 million out of paying tax altogether – I could see his eyes glazing over.
I sensed that “dull” is how the Budget would remain. I was fighting a losing battle. If I mentioned the £100 million extra for science, incentives to encourage charitable giving, the enterprise zones (including Greater Manchester), funding for thousands more apprentices (250,000 by the end of the Parliament) or £250 million to help first time buyers get on the property ladder with support for raising deposits I might have sent him to sleep. We will have to wait and see what Newsnight has to say, but I’ll settle for “dull”.