29 November 2011

Thinking Paper #208: The Pre-Budget Report (1997-2009): An Obituary

By Ron Ford

The Autumn statement (nee Pre-Budget Report - bit dry wasn't it?) used to be called the Pre-Budget Report (PBR). In the good old days anyway. People bloody love Autumn and they hate pre-budgets, that's what the focus groups said. Thank you Steve Hilton, your contribution to the running of government continues to be invaluable.



A biography

As a child, the PBR was quiet and studious. Shy around other financial reports, the PBR struggled to make friends and was socially awkward. However, PBR proved to be academically brilliant and went on to study Media Studies at Kings College Cambridge in 1992. After a successful appearance on University Challenge, in which PBR went up against several key IMF reports, a Q4 analysis from OECD and a rather subdued Summer Statement, it was plucked from relative obscurity by a Gordon Brown.

It’s favourite times with Gordon were often drink fuelled. "Rum", he would shout at the opposition benches "was the drink of my father and my father" he continued "was the drink of God". In 1997, following a similar drunken outburst, Gordon was sick on Peter Lilley's shoes. After a period of solitude, Peter Lilley became a florist.

PBR was Mr Top bollocks for 12 years. During this period, PBR was debated by the finest economic speak-pieces this country has ever produced. In 2001, Robert Peston described the PBR as "beyond superlatives" and in 2005, a teenage Boris Johnson labeled it a "Shakespearean felching fest". However, after over a decade at the top, its time had to come to an end. It was banished to the shoe cupboard of history by that pesky young upstart, Gideon "I've got a bum for a nose and a nose for a bum" Osborne. Rupert Harrison of Wingbourne IV and his compatriot, Steve Hilton, asked 7 men from Bristol which season they preferred, Autumn or the Pre-Budget Report. All 7 looked confused, but, fairly convinced that Pre-Budget Report wasn't a season, opted for Autumn.

And there we have it folks. The short and rather tragic life of the Pre-Budget Report. Enjoy the statement at 12.30. The IIPBA will not be watching.

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