BUDGET day is a big box office event in the House of Commons.
Whereas Prime Ministers Questions is normally the main Parliamentary event of the week, it’s very much relegated to a warm up act on Budget day as MPs are itching to hear what the Chancellor has to say.
I was lucky enough to get called for Prime Ministers Questions last week - I say lucky because it’s a total lottery whether or not you are picked to ask a question and though I enter each week my name has only been picked four times in nearly three years - it really is the luck of the draw.
I asked the PM how he planned to spend his millionaires’ tax cut. A bit cheeky I know, but I thought it made the point - the PM shouted something rude back.
The truth is that I couldn’t tell you exactly what his response was because the noise levels are so high inside the Commons chamber that you genuinely miss large chunks of what’s being said - it’s much, much louder than it appears on the TV.
On budget day MPs are even more boisterous. The Speaker does his best to calm the atmosphere quipping that the panto season isn’t due to start for eight months and so MPs should stop auditioning.
In truth the forecasts for whether things are going to pick up were pretty bleak - I genuinely hope those forecasts are wrong because they aren’t just raw numbers and data - its peoples’ lives.
At one point during the chancellor’s speech it became clear that George Osborne got a frog in his throat and had to pause for a glass of water - something that can happen to anyone, but the House of Commons is an unforgiving macho place at the best of times and there’s little generosity of spirit for your political opponents.
The truth is some MPs like to shout, sneer and jeer all through, budget day but whatever the theatre that goes on in the Commons chamber, whatever the jargon used by Chancellors of all colours, one thing struck me most during those 56 minutes - it was the moment the monthly unemployment figures for Ashfield flashed up in my blackberry e-mail inbox showing that in the last month 76 more people in Ashfield have lost their job.
That’s one figure that no amount of jargon can conceal.