Politics, it might be said, is the art of pretending to do the right thing while maximising your chances of re-election. Jeremy Hunt yesterday proved himself quite the artist; a little tax rise here, a gentle squeeze on allowances there, a pained regret at allowing inflation to do the dirty work for him while telling us how important it is to fight it. This smorgasbord of measures all helped to disguise the central weakness of budgetting today, that there is no appetite for any real attempt to slow down the advance of the state.

The triple lock for pensions is retained, the education, health and social care budgets are increased, energy prices will still be capped after next April, the 2 per cent Defence target remains, the financial disaster that is HS2 will go on destroying wealth. Oh, and the Sizewell C nuclear power station really, really will be built this time.