It's always good to reflect on things overnight. I have thought on the budget. My feelings are:
1) Terribly weak on the environment and all things to do with environmental taxes;
2) I think it's a real indictment of a Labour government that the likely losers from this budget are relatively low paid people without children. The wealthy lose nothing. Inequality grows as a result;
3) I remain of the view that this is a good budget for business. It gives lower headline rates for big business, who pay most corporation tax, and brings tax reliefs closer into line with economic reality. This should be welcomed by the tax simplification lobby, but you won't hear it;
4) I also remain of the view that this is good for small business. Those who are complaining about a rise of 3% in the small companies rate of corporation tax need to note two things. The first is that this is rarely paid except as part of what is legitimate tax planning. Second, the new rules on capital spending are a real boon ion both tax and admin terms . Again, this should be welcome. It's what business says it wants, until it gets it. I sniff hypocrisy in the reactions I'm getting. Small business should also be thinking about better ways of structuring instead. Why is the Limited Liability Partnership so underused, for example?
5) This was a timid budget. No real moves on tax avoidance. Plenty of detail, but nothing on domicile, residence, offshore in general, or beating the Channel Islands VAT game. So no signals of real intent. That's a massive disappointment.
6) I was amused to see the Tory reaction so off-beam at first. Cameron has a lot to learn on the economy.
And where is Labour strategy going? Hard to tell on the basis of this. Plenty of politics, not a lot of real change is not a strategy. It's pragmatism. They're not the same thing.
Is Brown waiting for a bold move when he's PM? I hope so. But I'm not holding my breath.