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How was it for you?

Betsan Powys | 11:42 UK time, Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Having read the headline announcements made by Alastair Darling in his Pre-Budget Report yesterday, the couple on the train from Paddington last night had come to two conclusions.

Number one: they'd been considering hitting Cardiff this weekend to spend their usual £300 or so on Christmas presents but knew they should really tighten their belts. The thought that the bill, thanks to the cut in VAT, would now come to some £284 by their calculations wasn't really doing it for them.

And secondly, a rueful smile from him and some colourful language as he wondered whether a Chancellor who'd just been talking about debts of half a trillion pounds without flinching might just be tempted to make use himself (incognito of course) of that free debt advice he'd just announced.

If they do go shopping to Cardiff this weekend, then they'll find out soon enough that the VAT cut doesn't come in until Monday. If they go shopping in Cardiff next weekend then hands up who thinks they'd notice the difference then? Good for his mate's business though, he thought.

Paul Murphy and Jim Murphy gave their interviews yesterday sitting in the same chair and singing from the same hymn sheet. This was a bold announcement that would help families and small businesses in Wales/Scotland now when they need it most. 360,000 working Welsh families and 195,000 small and medium sized enterprises in Wales would benefit directly from what was Alastair Darling had announced.

On the opposition front bench David Cameron's eyes prepared for each big moment in George Osborne's response and mouthed the words with him. His lips were moving like an Eisteddfod Mam's in the front row of the pavilion. Cheryl Gillan was there too and with each pointed soundbite - "precision guided missile at the heart of recovery" - the Conservative colours were nailed to the mast. This reckless plan would not work.

Right principles, not going far enough to please the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru. Adam Price MP made that noise a mechanic makes when he peers under your car bonnet and shook his head. He hoped it would work, he really did but ... intake of breath ... he was concerned it wouldn't be enough to get us out spending.

And the Assembly Government?

How quickly do they plan to spend that £140million that isn't new but is now available for them to spend sooner rather than later on building houses and refurbishing schools, creating work where there is not enough?

Have they worked out how much extra money they'll get to spend thanks to the PBR?

Whether and where they might make their own efficiency savings?

Have they, like the couple on the train from Paddington, been planning to spend? Planning to put into the economy some of the milions stored in the so-called Strategic Capital Investment Fund? The one and only allocation of money so far is an investment of £66million or so to make sure we're prepared if there's an outbreak of pandemic flu. Is now the time to spend?

A "knee-jerk statement" wouldn't be appropriate comes the response. After "active consideration" by the Cabinet, expect a statement next week.


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  • 1. At 12:11pm on 25 Nov 2008, brynt41 wrote:

    I hope the Assembly is better at doing its calculations than the couple on the train. On a spend of three hundred pounds I calculate a saving of approximately six pounds thirty-five pence. (Why the heck these BBC blogs can't accept the pound sign defeats me, it is a British pound after all!)

    Adam Price is quite right, its going to be an expensive job, thanks to Labour forgetting to top up the engine oil on its old banger of a car, when the going was good. Sounds to me as if the big end has gone, and its time for the UK's trip to the scrapyard.

    Croeso i Gymru!

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  • 2. At 2:54pm on 25 Nov 2008, daverodway wrote:

    As always Wales will be the last to benefit and the first to suffer. The Credit crunch has been a godsend to the Labour party: they let it happen, now they look like they're trying to do something about it - paltry tax cuts for ordinary people after a massive bail-out for their mates in banking. probably they want to be sure the donations keep coming in!
    Meanwhile we lose jobs faster and get them back slower than anywhere else in the UK. Our people are the poorest, illest and least economically active in the great nation of Britain. 10 years in power, decades running Wales at every level, and yet again our country comes out worst of all under Labour as it did under the Tories, whose previous 18 years nearly destroyed us.
    I think it's time for a new economic and political masterplan - if Westminster is so good at looking after 'our' interests, why is it that we have the worst poverty, the worst services, the illest and poorest people, and the highest unemployment in the UK.
    I cannot imagine that after such a record of large-scale political failure, there are many countries in Europe that would put up with more of the same. Why shoudl Wales?

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  • 3. At 9:37pm on 26 Nov 2008, osian wrote:

    Just because a Mars is now (possibly) 1pence cheaper, doesn't mean that you will got out and buy it. And if they're worried about deflation why do they want to bring prices down?

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  • 4. At 05:39am on 27 Dec 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    i feel it was not good for most people; who are not going to have jobs....or who are on limited incomes....

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