There will be no feelgood factor for the Tories at the next election unless the government can improve economic growth
Cannon to the right of him, cannon to the left. Since delivering his budget, Rishi Sunak has been bombarded by two batteries of opinion. From the right, there are yelps of incredulous horror that he and Boris Johnson have turned the Conservatives into a high-tax, high-spending party. Many of the Tory party’s traditional supporters in the media are aghast, while MPs rumble with discontent. “It is back to the 70s,” groans one senior Conservative who is old enough to remember the decade that ended with Margaret Thatcher turning up to roll back the state.
From the left, there are cries that this budget was essentially a con trick because the chancellor’s spending is nothing like as munificent as he sought to make it seem, as he rattled off extra billions here, there and everywhere that the next-door neighbour demanded splashes of cash. Mr Sunak made the audacious claim that the Conservatives are “the real party of public services”, but critics retort that large swaths of the public realm will remain in worse shape than when the Tories arrived in office more than a decade ago.