This article was written for, and is available to read on The News & Star.
This time of year, the moment just before the start of Spring, is my favourite. We are on the eve of renewal, restitution, and the anticipation of summer.
The seasons, of course, work on a cyclical basis; coming around at the same point every year – and the timetable of politics is equally predictable and regular. This time of year there are particular events that occur in the Westminster calendar, and some familiar proceedings once again are rolling into view.
First, we have the Budget, which will be on the 15th March this year. As an event, every Budget contains some familiar rituals; one of which is the fact that the Chancellor is actually permitted to have an alcoholic drink with them when presenting to the House of Commons (I believe that the last Chancellor to actually take up this offer was Kenneth Clarke who enjoyed a whisky at the time. I would be surprised if Jeremy Hunt brought the tradition back!).
Other familiar aspects of the Budget include an overview of economic performance of the country as well as economic predictions for the coming year. But besides these predictable events, the Budget comes with a number of unpredictables and is actually an incredibly important moment for any Government – and, indeed, the country as a whole. It will contain changes to taxation rates, benefits, and other aspects of the economy that will affect everyone in everyday life.
This will be the first full Budget under the Premiership of Rishi Sunak, and as always it will be closely scrutinised and interpreted in order to see the direction of the Government as a whole. My hopes are that the Chancellor will continue to ensure stability during very difficult times – but I also hope he isn’t too cautious, and he will be sure to come up with stimuluses, be they tax cuts in certain areas or direct investment in others.
The other Spring event in politics is the State Opening of Parliament, which contains the Monarch’s Speech. Of course, this will be the first speech from King Charles as the monarch (though he did address Parliament as Prince Charles when the Queen wasn’t able to attend last year). I am sure, as with many of the duties he now found himself undertaking as King, he will do it with a great sense of pride as well as some reflection toward his late mother.
The seasons and Parliamentary events may be the same every year, but that only goes to highlight the fact that nothing stays the same forever.