The chancellor’s spending plan will promise much, but the result will be disappointment
What a tightrope the chancellor will walk on Wednesday, with contradictory messages to satisfy opposing audiences. His party, who will chose its next leader, wants austerity so he keeps a photo of Margaret Thatcher’s chancellor, Nigel Lawson, by his desk. That matches Rishi Sunak’s conference admonition that “stacking up bills for future generations to pay is not just economically irresponsible. It’s immoral.”
Yet a blizzard of public-pleasing spending promises sows deliberate confusion: is he putting a tourniquet on spending or splashing the cash? He wants us to believe both impossibles: he can “level up” with fiscal rectitude, while cutting the deficit and carbon emissions too.
Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist