Don't rule out a triple-dip recession
A GOOD rule for politics is that when you're in a hole, stop digging. George Osborne delivered the Budget with the air of someone who realises he's in a hole, but still hasn't figured the best way out.
Austerity was still the watchword of the day, but this doesn't necessarily look like a set of measures to guarantee growth. It was less sweeping changes and more tinkering around the edges.
Anyone watching the Budget and taking what was being said at face value would assume that the UK economy was in fairly buoyant shape.
It seems that George Osborne is no longer content with rose tinted glasses and has swapped them for rose tinted binoculars.
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Perhaps the most shocking aspect was the huge downgrading of the growth predictions for the British economy.
At the current rate Britain won't properly return to prosperity until 2017 at the earliest.
Also bearing in mind that almost every economic prediction made in the last few years has been too optimistic, I don't think we should rule out a triple-dip recession either.
Whatever happens, it's unlikely this Budget will be as badly received as last year's effort which helped popularise the terms "pasty tax" and "omnishambles".
Perhaps the biggest problem Osborne faces is that economies have a momentum all of their own.
Like ocean liners you can't just steer them in a different direction at the drop of a hat.
The full impact of any changes introduced now won't be felt for a couple of months at the earliest. The question is whether he can jump-start the economy in time for it to make a difference in 2015.
Even if it does start to recover, that might not be enough to guarantee the Conservatives an electoral advantage.
In a way Osborne is in a trap of his own making. Originally austerity was justified as vital in order to keep our AAA credit rating. In retrospect, financial prudence without growth isn't enough.