Budget 2015 Sketch: Vicious jokes and the odd pre-election sweetener - but the Lib Dems were not laughing
16:28 18 March 2015
Britain is walking tall, George Osborne said as he stood side on to the despatch box, almost slouching.
Exuding self confidence and contempt for the opposition, the Chancellor hardly batted an eyelid as he shamelessly handed out small sweeteners for the seats and demographic where the opposition might be a threat - while also making plenty of vicious jokes at the Labour leader’s expense with encouragement from even the most sceptical of backbenchers.
There was £1m for Agincourt commemorations so he could quote Shakespeare’s “band of brothers” - cue laughter at Ed Miliband over his betrayal of his sibling.
His investment in connecting up urban transport, medical devices and household appliances so “should – to use a ridiculous example – someone have two kitchens, they will be able to control both fridges from the same mobile phone,” raised even a wry smile on the Labour side amid the many headlines about the Milibands two kitchens.
The Chancellor was weary with the suggestion that his spending plans would take Britain back to the 1930s - they take us back to the year 2,000 he said, not quite emulating a teen pop lyric.
Sitting together looking glum, the Liberal Democrats only lifted an arm in half-hearted response to talk of raising the tax threshold.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg occasionally nodded, but was far from animated.
When the Chancellor reached his crescendo concluding that Britain is the “comeback country” - the Liberal Democrats did not join in with the order paper wagging on the Government side, instead hovering in their seats desperate to leave what felt like a Tory rally.
It was a political budget for the Conservatives.
The Conservative government would eradicate the deficit through spending cuts alone, without tax rises.
The Lib Dem time will come tomorrow, when Danny Alexander - the Treasury Number Two - will wield a yellow budget box.
It will be hard to rival the cunning of arguably the most political Chancellor in history.