Five years on from the excitement of a fateful handful of days in May, the Coalition romance looks well and truly over, with the Liberal Democrats publicly distancing themselves by offering their own parallel spending vision in contrast to the Chancellor’s final Budget.
Osborne’s announcement was heavy on his party’s preferred themes of continuity and security, making infrastructure commitments, with their tangibility and long-term significance, an ideal vote-winning offering.
Seeking support beyond its leafy southern heartlands, the Conservatives look set to stress the Coalition’s record on rail and road improvements and their impact on regional economies, while also highlighting its desire to create a “northern powerhouse”.
If the election brings Tory triumph, we can expect to see more support for business growth in the regions, and perhaps new moves towards to boost tax competitiveness through devolution.
Should the Lib Dems receive a less devastating drubbing than anticipated, there could even be scope for their coalition to continue, though perhaps with fewer nuptial niceties and more misgivings.
Whoever wins, austerity is set to continue – but the main dividing line between the parties concerns how much to cut, and how fast. Labour has clashed with the Conservatives over the “1930s” tone of the latter’s spending plans, warning voters that the NHS and public services are sure to suffer.
Tensions are clear on housing, where Conservative policy has focused on shoring up ownership through Help to Buy mortgage support and social home sales.
Labour, meanwhile, has increasingly advocated for “Generation Rent” – whose plight the party has tied to its energy bill crusade through promises to improve efficiency standards.
Elsewhere, both parties are looking to build, though the Tories have pledged to achieve “Starter Homes” through waives on construction costs, while Labour has preferred to take developers to task over the impact of land banking.
But with the SNP snapping at its heels, the key question is whether Labour can govern alone, or – as Conservatives have sought to suggest – it will be forced to strike a deal with Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish nationalists.
Such an administration would present a decisive change of tone from what has gone before, as the SNP’s radical, progressive vision could find support among sympathetic anti-austerity elements on the Labour backbenches.
And so, with business leaders publicly pleading for a spot of certainty, perhaps the biggest story of the 2015 General Election campaign is simply how unclear the outcome remains.
This DeHavilland View was first published as part of a report from our sister company, Glenigan, considering the 2015 General Election's impact on the construction industry. Click through to the Briefings section of our Election 2015 microsite to read the report.
As Senior Political Analyst at DeHavilland, Anna Haswell leads on financial services policy, as well as covering media issues. In her capacity as Content Marketer, she is also responsible for DeHavilland's briefings and analysis output, working across teams to ensure relevant messages reach current and prospective clients alike. She is a graduate of the University of Oxford and Goldsmiths, University of London.