His days of doom and gloom were over – but maybe things weren’t so grrrrreat after all
As an exercise in expectation management it could hardly have been improved upon. Philip Hammond had promised he wouldn’t have anything very interesting to say in his spring statement and he was as good as his word. But as the chancellor is a man of some vanity who finds it hard to resist any opportunity to be the centre of attention, the fact that he had nothing very much to say wasn’t going to stop him from wasting 25 minutes of everyone’s time by saying it.
After years of developing the persona of an undertaker, Hammond is now labouring under the impression he is one of the world’s natural funny guys. All that’s missing is the comic timing. And the gags. So his opening joke about red books predictably fell rather flat. That was his first misjudgment. His second was to try to rid himself of his reputation for being an Eeyore.