The pre-Budget report in which Darling is Darling
Low-key, business-like with no Brownite flourishing of political dividing lines. This is the Budget (okay, the pre-Budget report) in which which Alistair Darling has decided to be Alistair Darling.
As a result, he has made it harder for the Tories to mock him and his economic projections which confirm that Britain's recession was deeper and longer than expected and than in most other countries.
At the same time, he has spelled out his political aim by claiming that:
"The choices are between going for growth or putting the recovery at risk. To reduce the deficit while protecting front-line services or cuts which put these services in danger."
His hope will be that George Osborne does not tone down his reply, so that he can claim to be the serious man getting on with the serious and unglamorous job of running the economy, while portraying his opponent as inexperienced and untrustworthy.
It's amusing to think that it is precisely this low-key political style which led Gordon Brown to want to remove him from his job.
Update 1319: Alastair Darling is not announcing how every department's budget will be cut, or listing the programmes that will be cut.
He has, instead, just announced £5bn of savings as an example of what can be achieved.
He listed residential care for the elderly; pension personal accounts; IT savings; legal aid; prisons and regeneration budgets. It will be interesting to check the details.
And National Insurance is - as predicted - going up by 0.5%, raising £3bn per year.