The frozen faces of Conservative MPs, as they listened in graveyard silence to the litany of punitive fiscal measures being imposed by the chancellor, said it all. Like a recaptured convict returned to captivity after a temporary spree, the British public heard, in Jeremy Hunt’s clinical tones, the prison doors of austerity slam shut upon them.

When financial journalists go through their customary post-budget exercise of drawing up two columns of “Winners” and “Losers” from this statement, they will not need to devote more than a cursory appraisal to the winners: millionaire pensioners and that’s about that.