Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Is Everybody Happy?

There was once a time when the annual Budget presented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was a solemn national occasion ranking with either a royal birth or funeral depending on the contents.  As most of the births turned out to be bastards on inspection after a time the response was more of derision than dutiful attention.

In the second decade of the 21st Century it has become more of a political pantomime, now you see it, now you don't, is everybody happy, those who say no kindly leave the theatre.  The raising of the antique box provokes the same reaction as when Widow Twankey lifts her skirts to expose her baggy bloomers.

As some in the media point out, the inflation in the number of statements, added budgets, variations akin to budget switches and the rest betray the influence of the modern world.  Between globalisation, the EU, a number of other forces at work on the economy etc. the nation's finances are in a state of constant flux and change.

Also, there are all the technical factors in the shape of the way accounts are handled, analysed and presented in a digital world.  We may well be at the point when as with many wage earners, each monthly situation needs attention.  In some cases it is almost each weekly situation.

Given uncertainty, all the variables, all the changing flows and the way markets now operate, the Annual Budget has become only a ceremonial occasion which provides the chance of major media coverage to allow the Chancellor to put a spin on the way the latest figures appear to be going, that is if our government computers are really up to it.

Sir Stafford Cripps, see Wikipedia, pictured above is one of the many might have been men who did not become Prime Minister.  It was health problems that led to his early death but his spell as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the late 1940's led to him becoming disliked and distrusted.

This happens with Chancellors, but now and in the future not just the decisions they have to make will be unpopular with voters, but the charade they are stuck with in explaining the public finances of a much changed world to a much changed electorate is a liability to all of us.

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