MP Alan Campbell column: We can't afford the Tories

Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell.Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell.
Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell.
There’s a rule which says chancellors must not leak their budget before delivering it to the House of Commons.

At least one Chancellor paid for this lapse with his job.

How different it seems nowadays. If ministers resigned for leaking statements today, there would be few left in the Cabinet.

Last week’s Budget statement seemed subdued.

Perhaps MPs had forgotten the significance of a Budget, after all, the previous two chancellors had not lasted long enough to deliver one.

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Or maybe having been comprehensively leaked, there wasn’t much new to reveal.

Conservative MPs seemed nervous – the highest level of taxation and debt since the war coupled with a disagreement over how to get to be a high wage, high enterprise economy maybe left them frustrated.

Opposition MPs were also anxious. The government has, after all, stolen so many Labour policies including freezing energy prices, more help with childcare and action to support people back into work. Labour MPs are worried that the government will steal even more of the Opposition’s ideas.

There are three tests for this Budget. Technically avoiding a recession is not good enough.

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So how does the country get out of a cycle of low growth, high taxes and declining living standards which the OBR says will only get worse?

Secondly, is the budget fair?

The chancellor lifted the limit on lifetime pensions, benefiting only the richest 1%. But ultimately the test will be, do you and your family feel better off?

After 13 years of Conservative government, that may prove to be the only question which matters.