Hmm, a week is a long time in politics!
One of the key reasons that the Budget and Welfare Reform have become a horrendous zero-sum game is because the economy is not performing as brightly as lots of people had hoped. This recovery does not seem to be like the good, old-fashioned booms of yesteryear. Normally, after a deep recession (and usually a bit later, after financial crises) the economy bounces back quite strongly on the back of looser money, a bit of judicious fiscal pump-priming, and the reversion to norm. Productivity, which is the only real driver of growth and living standards, catches up, firms invest in the next round of equipment and skills and the economy gets better almost by magic.
But as my esteemed colleague CU likes to point out, we are now quite a long way away from the 2007/8 financial crisis. There are still lots of problems around the world: the Eurozone, the China panic (lots of people say that the panic was seriously overblown), the correction of the oil price, and so on. But still.
The Chancellor finds himself boxed in. He has promised to balance the books. He has promised not to do this by raising the main tax rates. He has even been cutting some taxes, although this seems to be more than made up elsewhere. Overall, despite the wailing from the Right, there has been and will continue to be a significant tightening of the government's finances. I think even George himself would accept that the retrenchment has not been as fast as he would have liked when he was appointed; he would accept that some mistakes have been made. There are only limited areas which can be cut, thanks to the promises made by Cameron et al. in the 2010 and 2015 manifestos. They gave themselves far too little room for manoeuvre, presumably because they did not expect to win the election outright.
In an economy with its own fiscal and monetary sovereignty, fiscal and monetary policies can adjust in relation to each other quite easily. Sadly, the UK has fallen victim to the idea that nothing more can be done on the monetary front. The consensus view seems to be that because interest rates are "low" that monetary policy is "loose" and so it would be dangerous to try to revive the economy. The evidence to the contrary is deafening: inflation was zero in 2015. Inflation has burst onto the scene in 2016 by reaching the heady heights of 0.3% in March. Wages are stagnating. Exports are sluggish. The trade gap is yawning. These are all symptoms of money being far too tight.
But looser money isn't the only thing which we need. We need structural reform, undertaken with a zeal that Mrs T and Hezza would have blanched at. As I predict will be pointed out in the comments, looser money on its own might just end up boosting house prices. Again. What we need is deregulation and immediate and heavy investment in public infrastructure.
An amazing stat for you: 20% of London's existing housing stock was built between 1919 and 1939. As in, a fifth of what is standing now was built in a twenty year period in a city which has been here since at least Roman times and which was the first city in the world to reach a population of over a million: about 200 years ago. A city which was devastated by bombing in a period immediately after that 1939 cut-off, and which suffered at the hands of the post-1945 planners. 20%.
And we know how they did it. Pre-1945 there was very little restriction on what could be built and where. Nobody is proposing to tear up the rule-book in its entirety, although in these post-industrial days I doubt it would be as toxic to do so as people might think. Have you been to a factory recently? They are generally cleaner than most homes! Anyway, in the 1920s and 1930s, the state built extensions to tube lines, it built trunk roads, it built electricity infrastructure, and so on. It built the stuff which was needed to open up new areas for development. We should do this now, and not just because John McDonnell says so. We should press Go on new towns, on the freedom to redevelop existing developed land (although, to be fair, George has made some progress on this, much to the horror of Blue Rinse Tories and local government officials). We need skyscrapers and new transport links in our cities, and fast links between cities. We need a step-change in broadband provision.
We also need to let rip elsewhere. Businesses are held up by restrictions. The courts need to get better, faster and cheaper. We need to boost training schemes so that the new boom does not inflate away because of skills shortages.
Basically, we need a full-fronted assault on the stagnant economy. That will require cultural change which means strong leadership by someone who knows what to do and is prepared to fight to achieve it. So, probably not George, then.