New Labour’s Last Budget

This fin de siècle Budget confirmed that Labour’s election strategy will be built on the audacious conceit that it alone has the experience to “secure the recovery”. Alistair Darling oozed reassurance and boastful complacency as he attempted to maintain the pretence that this can be a pain-free recession. A blizzard of inconsequential measures was spelt out in mind-numbing detail while the reality of the epic scale of Gordon Brown’s failure was swiftly passed over. He inherited a deficit of £6 billion (now £167 billion); the 7th most competitive economy in the world (now 13th); the 4th most lightly taxed (now 84th). A firestorm will hit after the election when whoever is the victor will have to impose cuts in public spending of a scale and duration never before seen in this country.

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