Tony Blair’s former deputy director of communications Lance Price believes the dull Budget was part of a wider political strategy to “turn down the heat”.
Speaking at the Lansons Public Affairs Budget breakfast last week, he said that he thinks that Prime Minister Gordon Brown wants to be perceived as boring but competent and, as a result, he has not only put an end to spin but has also put an end to news.
He said: “At the Labour party spring conference, there was no news. When I worked at Downing Street, we would not have dreamt of going into the office in the morning without something for the newspapers.
“We now have a Government which seems to be consciously turning the heat down politically.”
But Price believes that the Budget has strengthened Chancellor Alistair Darling’s position because, in turbulent times, the public is more likely to choose a dull but dependable Chancellor over a “cheeky chappy” such as Conservative Shadow Chancellor George Osborne.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Jeremy Browne said the Budget speech made the Government sound “as though it had been in power for 11 years” and he criticised the lack of genuine green initiatives in the Budget.
He also attacked the Tories for not offering alternatives.
He said: “Every single tax the Conservatives criticise, you know they are going to introduce another identical tax to replace it because they want to spend to the nearest pound the same amount as the Labour party.
“Also, I do not remember the Conservatives saying the Government should be saving during the good years when we were in the good years. I do not remember anyone saying, no we do not want all this money on schools and hospitals we want you to be saving it for when 2008 comes around and the outlook is bleaker.”