The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Did Darling Deliver?

Posted by The Futility Monster on December 10, 2009 @ 10:05

Poor Darling. What a crap hand he was dealt. Thanks, Gordon.

A few days ago, when talking about the then forthcoming Pre-Budget Report, I confidently predicted

I fully expect Alistair Darling to be fairly specific. After all, it makes no sense to be about to legislate for a halving of the deficit if you have no real plans to save money. If they don’t, it’s tantamout to sticking yet another “Kick Me” post-it note on the back of Gordon Brown’s head.

Well, it seems Mr Darling has done just that. Perhaps he is looking forward to the Labour government going down in flames at the next election, and wants to be the one that finally does for Gordon Brown.

Yesterday’s PBR was an exercise in procrastination. Lots of tinkering at the edges, lots of remarkable statistics – such as Darling only apparently being £3bn wrong on this year’s borrowing figure despite the economy falling 1 percentage point more than he thought it would – but the key issue was avoided.

The country’s current spending window runs to the end of 2010/11. This is most fortunate for the Labour government, as it means the overall spending limits for the next financial year are already known to government departments. As a consequence, it means Alistair Darling can dodge the issue.

Clever. Labour, seeing that the Tories are ascending to government without telling anyone what they actually want to do with it, are wanting a slice of the action.

Rather than being a responsible government, and trying to claim the mantle of honesty and fairness for themselves, they have instead deferred. The hot potato has been thrown up in the air, and it will land in someone’s lap some time after May 2010. I’d be utterly amazed, though somewhat delighted, if the possibility of a March 25 election actually happened, but I don’t think it will.

Too clever by half, in fact. But that’s politicians for you. There have to be cuts. It’s simply not possible to sustain such enormous and continued borrowing without eventually upsetting the markets. If Britain loses its top-tier credit rating, which may happen, the cost of further borrowing will rise even more, making cuts have to go deeper still.

But once again, what are the political alternatives on offer? Can we credibly believe George Osborne, who will not spell out his spending plans, even though we will be getting an emergency budget within weeks of a Cameron victory? He must have some idea where the axe is going to fall.

Does this leave scope for Vince Cable to come up with a gigantic masterplan, outlining in great detail what the country needs to do to relieve this burden? Or will doing so be just too much honesty for the British public to take?

We are in danger of having one great enormous lie as our election campaign. More so than usual! Politicians will be afraid of being too negative, for fear of scaring the country half to death.

We need them to be honest, however, or we’ll never face up to the terrible mess this country is in.

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