Another bumbling budget?

Are we heading for another omnishambles budget? Reading press reports over the last week, you would not be too far off the mark thinking that perhaps Osborne has not learned his lesson and has, once again, taken his eye off the economic ball to concentrate on the bigger political picture.

Leaks (intended or otherwise) to the media have included u-turns on further changes to the pension system, fuel tax changes and a shifting of the income tax brackets. It isn’t really that shocking – no budget is a surprise and we often see a drip feed of ideas in the press in the weeks running up to the big day.

But this time seems slightly different; the slant appears to be that the Chancellor, with little fiscal room to manoeuvre, doesn’t really know what he is doing and has his eye more focused on the referendum and subsequent leadership election campaign than next week’s statement to Parliament. If this is not managed well it could turn into another PR disaster for Osborne.

But like many a politician before him, Osborne has ridden out previous storms and come out smelling of roses – well sort of.

Osborne’s credentials have been helped enormously by a turnaround in the UK’s economic fortunes and the perception that he is better equipped than his opposite number (now and before the election) to steer the economy into calmer waters.

In fact, when a closer look is taken, things are not really as rosy as they have been made out to be but vast swathes of the population believe what they read in the press, rather than delving into the oh so confusing numbers in greater detail.

So is this the end of George’s pipe dream? Has he unlocked the door of No 10 and held it open for Boris by taking his eye off the ball? Not yet, but he needs to watch out, a few more wrong moves and it is curtains for the Chancellor. That is, if he was ever in with a chance in the first place……