On hearing the budget, my first thought was “Is that all there is ?” (Incidentally an excellent song once recorded by Peggy Lee and available below for re-enjoying). So much of the budget has been spun, re-spun, unspun, de-spun, leaked and positioned before today that there was little left for Alastair Darling to do other than sip his “tap water” (we are told) and attempt, as usual, to induce somnambulance in the opposition.
Poor old Hugh Dalton must be turning in the grave – to think that he lost his job for giving one snippet of his budget to the Evening Standard a few minutes before their “Stop Press” deadline. Nowadays, Alastair Darling doesn’t need to carry his red box to the Commons – all he needs to do is to pick up a copy of the Evening Standard on the way and read the budget out of that – the press already knows most of the measures in advance.
Dear old Darling was there boasting that his forecast of economic growth is better than the USA’s growth. It’s so easy – this Chancellor stuff, isn’t it Alastair ? You just make up a forecast and then – oh – look – it’s better than the USA’s growth. So easy. Except that, as they always say, there is one thing you can be sure of with a forecast: it will always be wrong.
What is it with dodgy Chancellors and Badgers ? Norman Lamont looked a bit like a badger and lost himself in a flurry of soap bubbles. Now Alastair Darling looks like a badger and we all wait with increasing stupor to find out what does for him.
Dodgy Darling tried the old ‘national debt lower than 1997’ gambit. (Most of his sentences included some sort of disparaging statistical reference to 1997 for some mysterious reason – why is that, I wonder ? It really was shockingly repetitive) But when I last checked Labour have smurgled national debt so that it doesn’t include PFIs and Northern Rock. Again, this Chancellor thing is a piece of cake, isn’t it Alastair ? Just whizz things round the balance sheet and: hey presto! Go to the top of the class Young Darling !
And we get all this cant from Darling about the perils of binge drinking, but the extra taxes on alcohol represent an undisguised choice of the “easy option” to try to recover some direction towards order in the public finances.
Nick Clegg’s budget reaction: Today’s budget is a green cop out which kicks the difficult decisions on environmental taxes into the long grass and offers no help to the millions of hard pressed families struggling to make ends meet, according to Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg.
He said: “This is not a green budget. This is not a people’s budget. This is a con trick budget that protects the rich and abandons the poor. The Government has bottled it on green taxes and failed to implement the necessary measures to cut child poverty.”
So it’s not just me asking “Is that all there is ?” The poor, those concerned about global warming, hard working families, those staring at negative equity situations …they’re all entitled to ask the same question.
Sock it to them Peggy…..