As the Budget looms, David Smith takes a critical view of a system which puts pressure on Chancellors to pull tax cuts out of the hat to preserve their own job and those of their colleagues.
There are plenty of people, myself included, who regretted the passing of the traditional ritual of the spring Budget. There was, it must be said, a degree of self-interest in this. Anticipation of the Budget provided a ready source of material during the bleakest days of winter. The day itself, usually in March, when the Chancellor emerged from 11 Downing Street, wife on one hand, Gladstone's battered red box in the other, often seemed to offer new hope, like green shoots emerging from the frosty earth.