BBC BLOGS - Nick Robinson's Newslog
« Previous | Main | Next »

To give away or not to give away?

Post categories:

Nick Robinson | 08:27 UK time, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

How can a Budget that time and again has been billed by the chancellor as not a "giveaway" have things to give away?

Alistair DarlingI understand that Alistair Darling will announce the scrapping of stamp duty on house sales below £250,000 - limited to first-time buyers - and the phased introduction of a scheduled fuel duty rise.

He is expected to announce what he'll call "a growth package" to help small business, promote innovation, invest in national infrastructure and key skills. Reading the runes my colleague Robert Peston is predicting new tax breaks for companies. The Treasury have already confirmed plans to create a Green Investment Bank with up to a billion pounds of government money to spend.

So, where will the money come from?

Alistair Darling will unveil lower than predicted borrowing figures thanks, in part, to lower than feared levels of unemployment. He will also switch spending within existing departmental allocations. Thus, he will say that he can do all of the above whilst staying on course to cut the deficit in half over four years.

So, overall - in fiscal terms - the Budget will not be a giveaway. The chancellor will present it as "balanced" between the need to stimulate growth and invest in the future
while tackling the deficit. He will seek to contrast this with the Tories' approach of cutting now and cutting deeper and invite the country to give its verdict at the election.

What then about the take-aways? The huge cuts to spending which the Treasury's own figures state are coming very soon will not, of course, be unveiled today. They will be detailed after the election.

Although, talking of takeaways, I can't help noticing that a proposal to scrap stamp duty below house sales of up to a quarter of a million was first made by George Osborne at the Tory conference of 2007. You may remember that he also announced a plan to cut inheritance tax - an idea Alistair Darling also partially lifted.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Nick

    as one of the people on the BBC Today said this morning.

    This Budget is a sham

    There is no spending review so we don't know the level of spending that any tax changes are required for.

    The will be no information on where the cuts will fall

    This will all be about Labour politics not our future economic survival.

    And is very likely to spook the markets worsening our financial position

    Darling is not going to be implementing any of these changes as he will be sacked by the British People or Brown.

    You should be asking question of Osbourne or Balls they will be the ones who will make the decisions

  • Comment number 2.

    So there we have it. This is a budget for the next 8 weeks. The real budget comes after the election. Down right deceitful from Labour, mind you, what do you expect from the morally and literally bankrupt Labour Party.

  • Comment number 3.

    The 'Budget' is a misnomer. It is pure political propaganda - even more so when there's an election in the offing.

    It is time that the full balance sheet of 'UK PLC' was made public. I want to see what is raised by each tax, direct or indirect, and how much is being spent on each service, initiative, etc.

    I can go to Companies House and see that sort of information for any limited company, despite it being none of my business. Why cannot I see the same information for the country which I, as a taxpayer, fund?

  • Comment number 4.

    Perhaps someone could explain the point of this waste of taxpayers' money at a time of national emergency?

    The budget won't be adhered to if the tories win and it won't be honored if there's a LibLab pact (what would that be called, incidentally?.. 'newliblab?... newlablib?)

    The central issue is there has been no spending rveiew since 2006 when it was suspended by Gordon Brown, believing himself to be on the way to Downing Street.

    The very idea that a small imprvoement in the government finances is a reason for budget giveaways is farcical; this is like an alcoholic waking up to find themselves less hungover than usual thereby justifying another little drink.

    The government and newlabour simply can't break out of their control freak, high spending ways no matter how many warnings they are given.

    Arguing that turkeys don't vote for Christmas is both futile and making the tories case for them; Christmas comes anyway regardless of whether the turkeys vote for it or not. They are slaughtered willy nilly. This is what will happen to the government, whatever its politics after the election.

    Newlabour apologists can argue all they wish about supporting the economy because the public sector will have to be butchered whomsoever gets the keys to number ten. That is the stark reality and illustrates the absurd farce of today's phoney budget.

    Get on with calling an election.

  • Comment number 5.

    If he thankfully had to borrow less than anticipated this does not mean he has spare cash to throw around surely? If I borrow say £10 less than than my expected profligacy required then I do not suddenly have a tenner in my wallet that was not there before.

    What is this garbage?

  • Comment number 6.

    How can any Chancellor have a give away budget when he doesn't have anything to give away.

    This government has a history of increasing taxation year on year. This isn't a budget its a piece of electioneering. The Government should have called an election at the end of last year. One thing it isn't doing is governing in the national interest.

  • Comment number 7.

    It might sound like a small petty point, Nick, but don't you feel that ministers should make their announcements to the House first and then brief journalists afterwards?

  • Comment number 8.

    Nick

    I believe it is a sad reflection of the state of politics that the British people are treated like mushrooms (kept in the dark and fed on muck) in the run up to a GE.

    We should be told the exact state of the finances via an outside body as we cant trust Parliamentarians to give it to us straight.

    They will not tell us what they will spend
    They will not tell us what they will cut
    They will massage the figure for party political advantage.

    This just shows the contempt that this Government hold for the British people.

    We will not deserve better until we punish governments that treat us like this.

  • Comment number 9.

    Re No. 4 Rockrobin7

    It will be called Newdoubleglazing

  • Comment number 10.

    I hope you and your colleague hammer Darling if he says (again) that he will cut the government borrowing in half (160million down to 80 million a year... still spending to much) and then doesn't tell us what will be cut.

    Labour taking us for fools again.

  • Comment number 11.

    7. At 09:10am on 24 Mar 2010, djlazarus wrote:

    It might sound like a small petty point, Nick, but don't you feel that ministers should make their announcements to the House first and then brief journalists afterwards?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A mere technicality, dj, not to worry!!! :-)

  • Comment number 12.


    This isn't a 'Budget'. It's an election manifesto. A phoney baloney budget conjured up with spin, fiddles and fudge. So all the 'measures' are meaningless.

    The 'real' Budget will come hard on the heels of the election whatever the colour and flavour of the new parliament.

    Only then will voters be told the full scale of the cuts that everyone knows is needed to get the country out of the economic mess.

    Do you really believe voters will be taken in by the sham?


    http://theorangepartyblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/fake-budget-farce-for-failed-economy.html

  • Comment number 13.

    First person to mention a certain peer in relation to BBC bias gets a banana!

  • Comment number 14.

    robin @ 4

    "The budget won't be adhered to if the tories win and it won't be honored if there's a LibLab pact (what would that be called, incidentally?.. 'newliblab?... newlablib?)"

    It'll be called "Sir" ... least by you, it will.

  • Comment number 15.

    "So, where will the money come from?" asks Nick.

    How about an announcement from Mr Darling that the Government has postponed the decision to replace Trident nuclear weapons at a cost of £97 billion over their lifetime?

    Times have changed since the Government voted to replace Trident in 2007 - the economy is now in a miserable state and public opinion is now firmly against Trident replacement. The Government has not made a case for replacing Trident - it's just argued that business as usual should continue. Given that the world has changed a lot since Trident came into service back in the Cold War days, we need to think again about this issue.

    Delaying Trident replacement would allow the budget deficit to be filled earlier or spending in other more needy areas to be protected from cuts.

    At the very least, the case for replacing Trident should be carefully examined in the Strategic Defence Review after the election.

  • Comment number 16.

    Nick

    I understand that Alistair Darling will announce the scrapping of stamp duty on house sales below £250,000 - limited to first-time buyers - and the phased introduction of a scheduled fuel duty rise.

    Can you ask Liam Byrne which taxes will rise after the election to pay for these cuts?

    As someone said above the whole idea that because I'm running up debt of £170 Billion instead of £175 Billion means that I have money to give away is the sort of thinking that drove us into the mire.

    These people don't even care about their own children future let alone ours. They only care about their own position in Westminster.

    Its completely despicable.

    Its just the same as me going on a multi million pound spending spree then selling my children into bonded slavery until all my debt is paid off.

    While they also pay for

    Their own education £ 20,000
    Start a pension at 16
    Buy a house at 6 times their salary
    And my retirement.

    It make me sick to my stomach.

  • Comment number 17.

    #11 Bill

    It just doesn't serve to quell any of those rumours about the government and the BBC working hand in hand really, does it? I'm sure I can remember and assurance not so long ago that all policy would be announced to the House first and not to GMTV or the Today programme.

    The whole "government by media" thing is very off-putting - it makes one assume that they're more worried about how the policy is portrayed to the public rather than the policy itself.

    It's obvious to me that this is less a budget and more a pre-manifesto manifesto. Given the government's blatant disregard for their manifesto promises in the past, it seems to me that this budget is going to be little more than hot air and a test to see how annoyed the public are with them before they announce the election. Shameful, really.

  • Comment number 18.

    Re No.4
    Liblababble

    Or simply stick with the tried and tested, 'Lying, venal, third rate, meglomaniacs'

  • Comment number 19.

    Dear Nick

    Why demean our politics with your concluding aside:

    "Although, talking of takeaways, I can't help noticing that a proposal to scrap stamp duty below house sales of up to a quarter of a million was first made by George Osborne at the Tory conference of 2007. You may remember that he also announced a plan to cut inheritance tax - an idea Alistair Darling also partially lifted."

    You know very well, it's easy for opposition politicians to fly kites. Those in power have to be mindful of market consequences. The housing market is in enough trouble without idle speculation about stamp duty exemptions helping to bring it to a dead stop. I am hoping for a comprehensive package to help homemakers, whether renting or buying, upsizers, downsizers or first-timers.

    Peter Kenyon

    http://petergkenyon.typepad.com/peterkenyon/

  • Comment number 20.

    13. At 09:35am on 24 Mar 2010, Poprishchin wrote:
    First person to mention a certain peer in relation to BBC bias gets a banana!


    Would that be Lord Paul or Lord Mandelson?

    Thought not.

  • Comment number 21.

    271. At 08:57am on 24 Mar 2010, you wrote:
    I know I have said this before but surly the parties should be declaring in their manifestos what they are going to be doing in the next parliament.

    This election is going to be fought on innuendos and accusations and not on policies. Both main parties are scared to actually tell us how bad it is. Labour, because it would show how badly they have run our finances / economy and the Tories because they are concerned that the truth will scare us. And now the Liberals have joined in by saying that they will not tell us what they stand for and what they would deliver if they held the power in a hung parliament.

    I hate to say it but the US have a lot to show us. Their presidents actually deliver on what is committed to during their electioneering or at least they die trying. Obama has brought in health care, perhaps not the correct version as it will probably bankrupt the nation but it is what he said he would do. Could you see Gordon sticking to his policies after the election. A colleague of mine who is doing research for a particular body has looked into what has been in the manifestos of each of the elected governments over the last fifty years. Guess what very few policies have been delivered and where there have been attempts on delivery they fell well short.

    My call once again is let us have policies set out in the manifestos and let us for once hold the new elected party to deliver them and if not justify why not. I for one am very frustrated by not been given all the information. National security - yes things have to be withheld but the economy why can't they come clean.

    Questions that need to be answered :-

    1) What is the extent of the national debt - not what has been added this year.
    2) What is off book or below the line - are all the PPP PFI programmes now fully accounted for.
    3) What is the size of the discretionary spend by government department.
    4) What is being ringfenced and thus which departments are going to be targeted and by how much.
    5) When will we see a reduction in our national debt and not just in our borrowing requirements.

    I could go on, we are not stupid and the majority of the voting public can understand these figures and statistics if they are not wrapped up in technical jargon.

    This should be a call to all parties, we want transparency in our government and we want all the information and not just sound bites that suit the governing party........

  • Comment number 22.

    Hopefully this Budget farce will be the last stunt pulled by a dysfunctional Government. Only 44 days to polling day.

  • Comment number 23.

    2. At 08:55am on 24 Mar 2010, boabycat wrote:

    So there we have it. This is a budget for the next 8 weeks. The real budget comes after the election. Down right deceitful from Labour, mind you, what do you expect from the morally and literally bankrupt Labour Party

    ===================================================

    Labour aren't bankrupt because the receive £Millions of Taxpayers money via the backdoor Union Modernisation Fund

  • Comment number 24.

    Is it any wonder the Conservatives are tight lipped about their proposals? They must be getting sick and tired of having their ideas taken up and respun by Labour.

    I have also read today that increases in fuel tax will be phased in gradually. As the Chancellor was going to give something away after all as he has 'wriggle room', why not scrap increases in fuel tax altogether? What about scrapping the planned rise in NIC?

    Make no mistake, the poor, low paid and SME's are going to be hurt even more.

    This budget will hurt the majority of the electorate, but I see no mention of this here Nick.

    At least AD won't have to spend too much time reading such a short budget! One blessing at least!

  • Comment number 25.

    The prospect on June 3rd (or an early dash on May 6th) gets curiouser and curiouser. I’ve explained before why the deficit is not an election issue – no need to go over that again – but now it appears the same applies to public spending. We’re going into the poll having no clue what or when either Labour or the Tories would cut, or by how much. Remarkable state of affairs. Clear blue water? There isn’t even a trickly stream. Even the tiny number of differentiators we DO know about, most of them don’t stand up to close inspection. The Tories will almost certainly backburner their IHT cuts (they obviously wish they’d never made the pledge in the first place ... another Lisbon?) and the tax breaks for marriage are the smallest of small beers; real “mine’s a half” stuff. Leaves very little on which we can make up our minds. Can a general election in this great democracy of ours really boil down to a referendum on the return of fox hunting? One would have thought not but it’s sure looking that way. Depressing.

  • Comment number 26.

    DJ lazarus. I do agree with you government by media is a farce. The cause of a lot of the distrust if not hatred of the political class is the phrase ...will announce, or is expected to announce. Why not go back to good old reporting, in the past tense, not the future. We can then look at what was said and make comment, not comment and then have the words changed.

    As for the budget it is a farce, not spending review since 2006, what it looks like is how can we move the deck chairs......

  • Comment number 27.

    Sagamix..it certainly won't be called 'sir' by me as I shall be out of here faster than you can say 'fifty percent tax rate' if your mob stay in.

    It seems to escape newlabour apologists that people have choices; you are welcome to your bankrupt country if you're not prepared to take the knife to the puiblic sector. I shall enjoy sipping a large gin and tonic watching the news reports of the country tearing itself to pieces... Lord Mandleson appearing on TV every night talking about 'grubby tactics of the IMF' ... 'rumour with an intention to smear his beloved Gordon' ... it will all fall to pieces incredibly quickly.

    Look how Paul Krugman, the man who argued that Gordon Brown saved the world, is now arguing for a trade war against China; the very man who five minutes ago was arguing for free trade. The left is all over the place on how to het us out of the merde they have landed us in; thye haven;t the first idea.

    The meally mouthed bleating about 'locking in the recovery' 'futures fair for all' .. it;'s all meaningless drivel. The some thriteen years of 'WHAT' without the faintest idea 'HOW'???

    I could stnad up and offer myself as the candidate to makeeveryone rich beyond their wildest dreams; financially, intellectually, emotionally if you like. But how is it going to be delivered; this is whre the newlabour utopia collpasde. Thye had no idea how to deliver it because their 'policies' were just 'targets'

    My 'target' is to rid this country of the newlabour scourge of over promise and under delivery forever. Begone with your good intentions; which pave the way to the road to Hell. If gordon Brown had a moral compass it would have pointed him straight out of Downing Street and straight to the high court for bankrupting the country. 'Guilty, your honour, on all charges'. If Ed Balls had a moral compass he would be straight to the High Court and pleading for his record as schools secretary 'guilty, your honour, on charges of lowering standards, grade deflation, the creation of hair dressing degrees'

    Sagamix; your response shows your self regard knows no bounds.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 28.

    So our national debt is over £850 billion that is more than 60% of our GDP - figures from the NSO and the Treasury. Even if the government do reduce borrowing as they forecast they will do we will be a trillion ponds in debt within four years.

    These are numbers as a child you would throw around as fantasy. How long before we get to a zillion?

    What all of us should realise and this I feel is not being made clear, when they talk about reducing borrowing they do not mean reducing the debt.

    If anyone can honestly think that this is sustainable then you will be surly disappointed when we have to pay the piper.

    The cost of paying interest on the government’s debt is very high. In 2008 Debt interest payments were £31 billion a year (est 2.5% of GDP). In 2009, they will be £35 billion. Public sector debt interest payments are the 4th highest department after social security, health and education.

    Have we all got the ostrich syndrome and are praying that when we pull our heads out of the sand all will be OK. If this is the case I hope that you all like kebabs as we will surely be going a little Greek......

  • Comment number 29.

    It's not as though conservative governments haven't had political budgets before so we can't moan too much about the inevitable Labour vote-buying giveaways. Difference is this time they have well and truly stuffed the economy and rather than make a start on paying down the debt they are allowing it to rise for political reasons. The debt interest continues to mount, the public sector continues to be a burden on the private sector, the taxpaying workers continue to subsidise the 8 million who are economically inactive.

    All this to keep one man in his job. Mr Brown, we will be paying for your hubris for a generation.

  • Comment number 30.

    Im pretty sure that most realists would have argued that having borrowed less than we expected is not an excuse to borrow the extra now and waste it.

    What if we have to borrow more than expected next month? A wise chancellor would be considering this contingency.

    Still, i suppose having no thought for whats going to happen in the future is what got us into this mess in the first place so i dont know why i would expect things to change now.

    With any luck there will be a realist in number 11 in a few weeks time, heres hoping...

  • Comment number 31.

    Any chance of the Government balancing the budget over the economic cycle? I think that was the cornerstone of Gordon Browns economic policy, not that he stuck by it.

  • Comment number 32.

    Nick

    Is this just a school boy error or do you believe it....

    "Thus, he will say that he can do all of the above whilst staying on course to cut the deficit in half over four years."

    Because if you do then he will have to deliver savings of more than £425 billion while also reducing the annual spend by around £170 billion. That being the case this government will have to make savings / raise taxes by over £250 billion per year. As already stated above what I think you meant to say was they will reduce public borrowing by 50% thus public debt will still increase but not by as much as it is at present.

  • Comment number 33.

    £97 billion seems like a lot of money to me and may not be an official figure, but if it is true that new nuclear weapons cost this much we should not be buying them.

    The priority must be troops in Afghanistan and paying off the national debt.

  • Comment number 34.

    I would imagine the Budget will be another time when politics is seen as more important than economics.

    The longer Britain waits to make cuts in Government spending the more they will hurt. Over the last 10 years taxation has gone up not down therefore the idea that Darling believes he can plug the deficit with tax rises is beyond belief. The private sector is continuing to be squeezed as the public sector continues to suck all the potential wealth creation from it.

    Tax rises on business and high earners will cost jobs and the 50p tax will, according to most experts, lose tax rather than gain any. Any tax that hits low earners will cause poverty.

    Only big cuts in Government spending are the answer. Darling cannot really believe his own growth figures upon which halving the deficit relies. Already Labours projected spending for their promises on various giveaways has accounted for much of any reduction in the deficit they will make. Any extra money Darling has must be used to cut the deficit. Politically and ideologically Labour is not in a position to cut spending because of their reliance on the Unions and core voters.

    So none of the parties are facing up to the real problems in the economy and making a credible plan to cut the deficit. With Labour it is all about winning the election and who cares about the consequences. With the Conservatives it is fear of the electorate because Labour have allowed them to live in denial and Labours ability to use spin, which holds them back. The Lib/Dems are just trying to appeal to both Labour and Conservative voters to gain some power.

    Darling may well pretend that Britain has come through recession and is on the mend. When in reality Britains problems are just beginning. Not being honest with the electorate will cause no end of trouble later.

  • Comment number 35.

    Any chance this Govt. might actually use parliamentary process to disseminate important info, rather than leaking. There is no respect for parliament and they all wonder why! This Govt bypass it at every opportunity.

  • Comment number 36.

    A budget for the hard working family then! My fiance and I are unlucky enough to own our own house which means if we want to move to a bigger place which will allow us to start a family we will need to pay stamp duty (because every two bedroomed house in the area is above the level where stamp duty applies.)

    However, if we didn't own our own home we would be saving in the region of £1,400.

    Wouldn't it just be fairer (and remember that the New Labour spin is that they are working for a "future fair for all") to cut stamp duty below £175,000 across the board - as this wouldn't penalise those people who have worked hard to buy their first house and are now looking to move up.

    What am I thinking about - Labour don't do fair they do spin!

    The ironic thing is that if Labour did cut stamp duty under £175,000 that would be reason enough for me to vote for them - neither party are any good but a saving of about £1,400 is quite a nice bribe.

    Perhaps I should explain this to my Labour MP who is facing the very likely chance of losing her seat (her minority is fairly small and the Council has already gone Tory).

  • Comment number 37.

    I did not realise that the borrowing projection of £175 billion was another of Browns targets which must be achieved regardless

    Then again this is Old Labour so pehhaps I should have done so

    Silly Boy

  • Comment number 38.

    Voters are so thick! Labour has ruined the economy kick them out give Tories a chance to put it right. Like Cameron once said if inexperience means never having a new government then we'll be stuck with Labour forever! Brown wont ever stand down. We'll be stuck with a weak government headed by a weak PM. Come on Osbourne expose the lies!

  • Comment number 39.

    27 - And there's no defence in saying no-one saw a recession coming. google 'Peter Schiff Art Laffer' for a debate on US TV. Schiff was then described as one of 'a growing monority' predicting an economy. The phrase that stands out to be was along the lines of "when the stock market falls and the housing bubble bursts, all we will be left with is our debt". That was August 2006. Many people saw a recession looming. Brown chose to bombastically ignore the warnings. He's not an entrepreneur, it's not his own money, a proper national economy ought to be run with caution, not one where he ploughs on regardless.

    I agree though that BROWN couldn't see it coming. I mean, he couldn't work out that withdrawing the 10p tax band would leave the lower paid worse off. Nor could he work out that a 'nil rate' band on the first £10k of company profits could allow a self-employed person to incorporate and pay no tax on the first £15 of his income. For all the guff about his stewarding of the economy, all he did was inherit a sound economy, follow the Tories policies for 2 years and then spend spending like the maniac he is.

    "Labour, telling you what to do since 1997"

    Quite catchy, that slogan. Kind of sums them up.

    Both policies he had to embarressingly reverse.

  • Comment number 40.

    I agree with number 7, but shouldn't it be favoured journalist?

  • Comment number 41.

    25. At 10:05am on 24 Mar 2010, sagamix wrote:

    Can a general election in this great democracy of ours really boil down to a referendum on the return of fox hunting? One would have thought not but it’s sure looking that way. Depressing.


    ====================================================

    No if you have eyes to see SAGA this will be a referendum on a Government that has been in power for 13 yers and has created the biggest piece time crisis since the English civil war.

    This Government gets away with not being frank with the public because apologists keep supporting their blurring of the issues and not getting behind the call for clarity.

    The government have to come clean first as they are in power only then can the debate begin.

    This budget as you say will not clear up anything but you will still support Harman Brown Darling et al and they are the ones who treat us like mushrooms..

    You can't have it both ways

  • Comment number 42.

    "28. At 10:14am on 24 Mar 2010, Chris London wrote:
    So our national debt is over £850 billion that is more than 60% of our GDP - ... Even if the government do reduce borrowing as they forecast they will do we will be a trillion ponds in debt within four years.

    These are numbers as a child you would throw around as fantasy. How long before we get to a zillion?"

    Perhaps in honour of the man who ran it up, we could call the new number a "Brownillion"?

  • Comment number 43.

    31. At 10:24am on 24 Mar 2010, skynine wrote:
    Any chance of the Government balancing the budget over the economic cycle? I think that was the cornerstone of Gordon Browns economic policy, not that he stuck by it.

    ====================================================

    Gordon is going to balance the budget over the economic cycle.

    Its just that he's increased the length of the cycle from 5 to a thousand years.

  • Comment number 44.

    "The ironic thing is that if Labour did cut stamp duty under £175,000 that would be reason enough for me to vote for them - neither party are any good but a saving of about £1,400 is quite a nice bribe."

    So you can be bought and sold for £1,400? - What about honour and integrity?

    If Labour remain in power your loss will be far more than the £1,400 you would save.

  • Comment number 45.

    Your anger (at 27) is perfectly understandable, Robin, but it's aimed at the wrong target. Governments and economies all over the world have been blown off course by greed and recklessness in the private sector. The economic and financial crisis we are currently battling has been caused by a malfunction of laissez faire capitalism. The solution is radical reform of such, not more of the same. It will take time, of course, but I'm optimistic. Main thing is for the Left to get a hold of the Labour Party again and make it a vehicle for the clear thinking, progressive policies we need. In this context, what we decide on June 3rd doesn't matter too much. The big move Left is going to happen over the next three to five years, and those CTP policies will find favour and be implemented within ten. Well within your lifetime, Robin, so please hang fire on the gin and tonic and wait a bit ... wait until we can really celebrate. Lay a bottle of port down, even, and we'll open it then. We'll hit it hard, you and I, we will.

  • Comment number 46.

    RockRobin7 27

    Yes Paul Krugman is a good example of how economists attached to politics is such a bad idea. Other than his foolish claims that Brown saved the World which now in America is seen as ridiculous. His most recent outburst beggars belief. The trouble is people like this are allowed a voice whereas any who oppose his views are not.

    He wants to put a 25 per cent surcharge on goods from China in order to bring China round to Americas way of thinking to reform the Chinese currency. America already is making all the wrong moves towards china, advice like this does not help. American business would find itself in deep trouble if this surcharge were to happen, as it relies very much on China.

    The real problem is that the left just do not understand wealth creation, taxation and business. Unfortunately they do not understand the concept that spending has to be paid for. It is all very well to have ideals but paying for them is a different matter. It is like the BA strike, how will bringing the company down help workers as the Union claims. It just means workers will lose their jobs and pensions as the company sinks.


  • Comment number 47.

    Darling - just because you have to borrow less doesn't mean you can spend more. Borrow less. Easy really.

    A 178 or a 168 Billion overdraft on current expenditure doesn't matter, we're still overspending by between 20-25% on income.

    Cut. Cut now. Cut hard. And that story this morning about the House of Commons advertising for a lift attendant. A LIFT ATTENDANT!!!
    Slash. Gone. That's £18K saved. Next?

  • Comment number 48.

    I hope but don't think this Budget will have much bearing on the election. I will not be voting based on this budget. I will be voting over decisions made about the Iraq war. I belive there would have been a recession anyway.

  • Comment number 49.

    The Budget is a charade. Its an election that is needed.

  • Comment number 50.

    It's what's not in the budget that we need to know. We need the truth not more labour lies.

  • Comment number 51.

    chris @ 32

    "what I think you meant to say was they will reduce public borrowing by 50% thus public debt will still increase but not by as much as it is at present."

    Must defend Nick here. He does say it's the deficit which will be reduced by 50%. This is correct terminology since the deficit is the amount by which we are adding to the public debt each year, rather than the cumulative debt itself. The absolute numbers are eyewatering though (aren't they?) and it's easy to get confused - bet 9 out of 10 members of the public make the same mistake as you do.

  • Comment number 52.

    And so we approach the moment when yet another newlabour budget tries to blur the distinction between being economical with the truth and outright lies.

    Why are we having a budet that all parties know will be reversed within three months?

    Public services will be butchered whoever gets the keys to the door.

    Protugal has just been downgraded and will face all the same issues as Greece and the UK; no one wants to buy their debt.

    Again and again sagamix and the newlbaour apologists come on these posts pretending that black is white - that the deficit doesn't matter.

    What on earth have they been smoking to believe that debt is not a serious problem and must be sorted sooner not later?

    'Calm down dear, it's only the most serious budget deficit in a thousand years' somehow has a ring about it; a ring of mind numbing incompetence and denial.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 53.

    THEIR IS NOTHING TO GIVE AWAY NICK... NOTHING, ZIP, DIDDLY SQUAT.

    MOVE ON, Call Election

  • Comment number 54.

    'He will seek to contrast this with the Tories' approach of cutting now and cutting deeper and invite the country to give its verdict at the election.'

    Yes, and when they give their verdict let it be based on the economic record of this government over the last 13 years rather than the spin and hot air New Labour are going to be spewing out between now and 6th May.

  • Comment number 55.

    portcullis,

    "a Government that has been in power for 13 yers and has created the biggest piece time crisis since the English civil war."

    Bloggus angeri misdirectus. Pls see my 45.

  • Comment number 56.

    A fantasy budget from a delusional government. Labour has proven, yet again, that they simply can't be trusted with the economy. There is a perception that Alistair Darling would like to 'do something' to help rebuild the economy. but is hamstrung by Gordon who wants to carry on with spend spend spend as if nothing had gone wrong. The truth is, what the country needs is a chancellor who can make the courageous decisions - and cut spending and cut waste. Frivolous projects should be scrapped - as should generous 'grants' to Trade Unions who are determined to wreck the economy.

    Gordon Brown has shown through his testimony to the Chilcot inquiry, that 1) he can't be trusted, 2) he can't add up and 3) he must think we are all stupid.

    Rather than waste time on this so-called budget, they should just clear their desks and go.

  • Comment number 57.

    Surely the onset of this Budget weeks before an election is another of example of where we clearly need electoral reform. A number of people have commented that this budget will take place and another shortly after the election. In the interests of level playing fields - a 6 month limit before an election should be made law. I guarantee that what he gives with one hand, will be taken away by another (either his or someone elses!). Though anyone with an ounce of sense will see straight through "Darlings" budget electioneering!

  • Comment number 58.

    17.djlazarus

    The only issue with the fact it is a pre-manifesto manifesto is that as we know New Labour have argued successfully in the past that a manifesto is more a wish list than an actual pledge list.

    Surely the ministers have better things to do ("setting up careers that to be frank will make me money") or places to be (Cyprus, Maldives)or deals to be doing (allowing train companies to walk away from contracts)than sat listening to this non budget...

  • Comment number 59.

    "John Wood wrote:

    So you can be bought and sold for £1,400? - What about honour and integrity?

    If Labour remain in power your loss will be far more than the £1,400 you would save. "

    We are going to get screwed either way, might as well make some money out of it!

  • Comment number 60.

    I read some charlatans are claiming they called this the Phoney Budget first - LIARS!!! T'was me.

    Anyway, good that it's becoming consensus. This isn't a budget. It won't be anything like a budget. It won't even come close.

    The only point of similarity between this, and a real budget, is the tatty briefcase it will come in. You can use that Nick, if you like. Just stop calling it a budget - a budget without a spending review is.... to quote Blackadder, like a pencil without lead... pointless.

  • Comment number 61.

    Having listen to Alistair Darling and Lord M in recent days and looking at NR's & SF's blogs it's fairly obvious that New Labour are going to be spinning like mad that their policies are aimed at encouraging investment and exports. Given their past record in these areas this has as much credility as Nick Griffin claiming the BNP are going to encourage racial harmony.

  • Comment number 62.

    If Labour remain in power your loss will be far more than the £1,400 you would save.

    Indeed. How much have all of us lost in the crashing pound this past two years? More than that. How much debt will our grandchildren be paying back for Brown's egotism? Far more than that. How much more tax are we paying after these wasted labour years? far more than that. How much have their damn wretched wars cost us? More than that...

    I know the idea of insisting that voters pass an IQ test has gotten a bad press, but couldn't we at least demand basic numeracy?

  • Comment number 63.

    The only time the elites give anything significant away is when it is to other elites. This fantasy budget will be no different. I coming to the conclusion that the only way we will get justice involves rope and some lamp posts.

  • Comment number 64.

    4 rockrobin7

    "The budget won't be adhered to if the tories win and it won't be honored if there's a LibLab pact (what would that be called, incidentally?.. 'newliblab?... newlablib?) "
    ===========================================

    I think "LibLabUnite".

  • Comment number 65.

    These days, budgets are leaked in advance as a matter of course. By the time the Chancellor gets to his feet in the House of Commons, most MPs will already know what he is going to say.

    I expect most people on this blog are far too young to remember the budget in 1947, when the Labour Chancellor Hugh Dalton spoke to a journalist on his way into the House letting slip some of the details. This resulted in the paper publishing the tax changes before he had finished delivering his speech. As a result, Dalton had to resign.

    How different it is today, when Government Leaks have replaced the old public service information films. Unless of course, the 'leak' hasn't been authorised by number 10, in which case this discredited government sent for the police to try and intimidate opposition MPs.

  • Comment number 66.

    Good Bye Mr Brown and Good Ridence.

  • Comment number 67.

    25, 45 Sagamix,

    I notice that the volume of posts had dropped off dramatically, and their content seems to lack your usual energy and commitment.. almost half hearted in a resigned sort of way. Lost your mojo ?

    Perhaps even you now realise that the game is up for the Gordon Brown and his PG Tips advert of a government. Certainly your posts in 25 and 45 offer nothing positive in the way of why anyone should vote for Unite-Labour.

  • Comment number 68.

    just sneaked a listen to PMQs why wont Brown answer a question. Apparently it is the Information Commisiononer that wont publish the data about gold sales. It also sounds like it is his fault that information on the pensions raid by Brown is not being made public. why will he not answer yes or no. This is a farce more so than the budget will be.

  • Comment number 69.

    What is the Real Level of UK National Debt? However, it has been argued that the UK’s national debt is actually a lot higher. This is because national debt should include pension contributions and private finance initiatives PFI - PPP which the government are obliged to pay.

    The Centre for Policy Studies at end of 2008 argued that the real national debt was actually £1,340 billion, which is over 103% of GDP. This figure includes all the public sector liabilities such as pensions, and PFI PPP programmes.

  • Comment number 70.

    #46 Susan-Croft

    "The real problem is that the left just do not understand wealth creation, taxation and business."

    Yes, this is always the problem. Labour is traditionally obsessed with wealth distribution, not wealth creation.

    They only think about how to divide up the national 'cake', but have no recipe for making the cake bigger.

  • Comment number 71.

    I don't know why I both watching PMQs any more, it's as much of a pointless charade as I expect the budget will be.

  • Comment number 72.

    sagamix 45

    'Main thing is for the Left to get a hold of the Labour Party again and make it a vehicle for the clear thinking, progressive policies we need.'

    I'm probably keener for this to happen than you are. Surely this would only happen over the dead bodies of Mandy and various other die-hard New Labourites, i.e. wouldn't it mean a period of civil war ?

  • Comment number 73.

    45 "Governments and economies all over the world have been blown off course by greed and recklessness in the private sector."

    We had a perfectly good banking regulation set up until Brown dismantled it.

    Capitalism will recover, it always does. In your heart, you must know, deep down, that none of your silly little dreams will ever come to pass, not least because dreaming about them is all you ever do. That must make you feel sad.

  • Comment number 74.

    Could somebody please explain the term giveaway used by politicians and journalists? Giving away what? It's not giving away - it's simply NOT TAKING

  • Comment number 75.

    No matter what he does , we are in deep deep water, the government are hiding the true figures but put into context, the interest payments on the measures already in place, will amount to approximately the same as the NHS budget, now thats just the interest on the payments at the rates now, if our currency keeps dropping or we keep printing money, then the repayments rise.

    If we were a business the administrator would be called in....remember the same people who are making predictions about future growth are exactly the same people who didn't seethe recession coming in the first place, or if they did they didnt tell us, instead leading us like lemmings off the cliff.

  • Comment number 76.

    #52 rockRobin7

    "And so we approach the moment when yet another newlabour budget tries to blur the distinction between being economical with the truth and outright lies."

    Quite so!

    There is only one area where Labour can be seen to be 'economical', and that is being economical with the truth.

  • Comment number 77.

    sagamix 25

    'We’re going into the poll having no clue what or when either Labour or the Tories would cut, or by how much. Remarkable state of affairs. Clear blue water?'

    No different from any other election. You have to base your judgement on what parties believe rather than what they say. They're all going to say much the same thing immediately prior to an election because it's all driven by focus groups etc. Post election it's a different story.

    Remember Labour pre 1997 - 'tough on crime', 'tough on immigration', 'it's not how much you spend but how you spend it', 'no tax rises', 'prudence with a purpose'. The reason the outcome was the polar opposite of the above is that non of these slogans chimed with core Labour beliefs.

  • Comment number 78.

    rr7,

    "Again and again sagamix and the newlbaour apologists come on these posts pretending that black is white - that the deficit doesn't matter."

    Not saying it doesn't matter, Robin, it certainly does matter. Big issue. Just that it's not an election issue. Have outlined the reasons (why it isn't) on quite a few occasions, both here and out on the streets.

  • Comment number 79.

    susan croft 46

    'The trouble is people like this are allowed a voice whereas any who oppose his views are not'

    You're right. You can be damn sure the BBC will quoting him ever more frequently as the election approaches (with a few quotes from Joe Stiglitz thrown in for good measure).

  • Comment number 80.

    Having recently moved house and significantly increased my mortgage if I suddenly found that I had more money than I thought I would use that to reduce the mortgage thereby saving future pain. What is so different between that and Darling's position, other than the fact that he has an election to win. Am I being too prudent?

    My other point is this, do many first time buyers spend £250,000 on a property even in the SE. By my reckoning even with a 10% deposit this would require an income in excess of £50,000 - sounds like a policy to appease a few middle class voters.

  • Comment number 81.

    What one gives one takes..............that'll be the left hand / right hand logic! What's that you have to watch when a magician is doing his conjurring tricks.............his hands!

  • Comment number 82.

    Talk about 'fiddling whilst Rome burns', this desparate Darling swansong smacks a bit of political posturing. Will he be his own man and do what's best for the country, or will he cave in to a pre-election sweetener - I wonder what strings the great leader may have in his hands (at least we've passed the 15th - otherwise we could have been saying 'beware the ides of March'). I wonder how soon before this impending no-brainer is brushed aside in certain quarters by a fresh assault on Tory doner Lord A*******! (Oh no.... my keyboard's been nobbled - it won't let me type his name!!!!!!!)

  • Comment number 83.

    51. At 11:33am on 24 Mar 2010, sagamix wrote:

    "A budget deficit occurs when an entity spends more money than it takes in. An accumulated governmental deficit over several years is referred to as the government debt."

    This is where we need to ensure that we are calling a spade a spade. I believe Nick in his presentation last night and in this blog has been somewhat misleading, You are correct that deficit is not debt however it is directly responsible for the debt. The point I am making is that politicans and journalists alike often imply the second when they actually mean the first. So why not call it public borrowing rather than deficit. If you look at the paragraph I took the quote from both terms are used however there is a great inference on the later.

  • Comment number 84.

    45.sagamix

    Sorry Sagamix, "greed and recklesness in the private sector"

    Are you sure? Do you live on the same planet as myself? Not having that.

    Massive growth in Public Sector jobs over the last 11 years or so, the private sector is paying for this.

    Greed... No greed in the Public Sector then? None at all no? No fault of the government at all? Come on Sagamix, you are sometimes entertaining and for me quite informative, but from someone who works in the Private Sector that is not really on.

    Recklesness... The selling of the gold was a good move? The introduction of a 50p tax rate is a good thing? The constant borrowing has been carefully planned has it and like a chess grand master we are all blind to the next move that will unravel this master plan???

    Now I agree that Banks have been greedy and reckless, but if you invite the devil to dance then you keep dancing until it stops, and by wanting London to be the banking capital of the world it was bound to follow that without the proper legislation and controls trouble would follow.

  • Comment number 85.

    Good to see that spin still works. No increase in petrol duty, well 1p. But what about the 2.5% increase in January, that was allowed to creep through. Probably covered any loss from defraying collecting it in one hit. Decietful in the extreme

  • Comment number 86.

    For those who wish it Darling has cancelled stamp tax on house sales under £250,000 paid for by increasing the tax to 5% on houses selling for more than £1m.

    Sounds great until you work out that:-

    1. It hits the South most therefore political and

    2. Not many houses costing more than £1m are selling so

    3. He WILL have to borrow to cover it

    Groundhog day

  • Comment number 87.

    #25 saga,

    Tally ho and let's rid the countryside of the little ginger foxy fellows! Right - off to saddle my horse......

    I do think the deficit is part of the election - whether you believe it to be or not. The fact is that Mr & Mrs Joe Public see the amount of debt and deficit and can't quite comprehend the size of the numbers involved; and whilst the majority of the population has no deep understanding of economics (myself included) when you see numbers like that you just go 'crikey! how did we get this far in debt?'

    It will be a big part of the election, just as the MP's expenses and cash for (insert whatever you want here> issues will also be praying on people's minds - as I think they should, they are important issues

  • Comment number 88.

    Shambolic 47

    'And that story this morning about the House of Commons advertising for a lift attendant. A LIFT ATTENDANT!!!
    Slash. Gone. That's £18K saved. Next?'

    Unless the House of Commons has 10,000,000 lift attendants that's not going to help much.

  • Comment number 89.

    So he aims to reduce beuracracy by starting another one to oversee a £4billion goverbment fund. Hypocracy in spades or just jobs for the boys.

  • Comment number 90.

    I find much of what is being said mildly worrying. Too many correspondents appear to believe that the entire fault for the current economic straits the country is the Governments. Forgive me, but where were you when the banks decided to wreck the world financial system?

    Secondly, the apparent shock and horror that a government considers politics when writing a budget! No !! I've watched every government of the last forty years create election budgets, so please stop acting as if this is an amazing u-turn.

    Thirdly, reducing the deficit by 50% in four years is, frankly, pretty much what the economic cycle will do without any major changes. As unemployment falls and the economy grows more tax arrives and fewer benefits are paid - ask the LSE or London Business School. The difficult stuff is AFTER the first 50% is clawed back, and that is where they should be focussing.

    My personal preference to better manage our government and politicians would be fixed term parliaments of four years, each starting in May. Fixed annual Budget dates of September (giving an incoming government time to "learn" and removing the giveaway incentives). A second chamber of proportionally elected members voted in for four years, midway through each parliamentary cycle to provide proper checks and balances. An Office of National Accounting tasked to create full financial reports on each country in the UK showing income and expenditure properly broken down so that we can see where the money really comes from, and exactly how it is spent. MP's who are paid a proper wage for a pretty full time job, and an absolute rule that they may receive no income from any other employment - if we pay for full time, they work for full time. And a government owned and run hostel for all out of town MP's to stay in so that they can get the true "council house" experience.

  • Comment number 91.

    Good news we will just be under a Trillion in debt rather than over it as long as the economy grows and there is a following wind.

  • Comment number 92.

    One good thing in the budget. The increase in Entreprenuers relief limit to £2,000,000. That's an EXTRA £80,000 tax saving to bring it up to a tax saving of £160,000 in total.

    I'm sure we can ALL agree that this is a good thing. Less tax taken from those entrepreneurs who help drive the economy forward.

    The doers in society, not the dreamers.

  • Comment number 93.

    Darlings speech should have started THE NOW FOLLOWS A PARTY POLITICAL BROADCAST FOR THE LABOUR PARTY.

    STAMP DUTY If 100,000 first time buyer are able get mortgage that be a miricale, and cost approx £100,000 to fund.

    If 3 rich buyers decide not to buy because of the 1% increase to them, whos paying for the stamp duty?

    MPs thought was funny the rich were being taxed

    YES MR DARLING YOUR BUDGET WAS A JOKE

  • Comment number 94.

    SP @ 67

    I'm not losing interest - no way - it's just perhaps that I find myself getting more focused on the long game (the move Left). Not a very long game, since it will happen quicker than most people think - but not as soon as June 3rd.

  • Comment number 95.

    undecided @ 84

    I'm not saying there isn't government waste, or that we wouldn't be better placed if Brown hadn't been running a deficit pre crisis, I'm just making the point that, on the whole, big picture, this is a (hopefully) once in a lifetime malfunction of laissez faire capitalism which we have the great privilege of experiencing. I offer it as antidote to the Tory Story nonsense. If we got less of that, I probably wouldn't bother since what I'm saying is boring and self evident.

  • Comment number 96.

    chris,

    "So why not call it public borrowing rather than deficit?"

    We could if you like. But we'd have to keep stressing it's the additional net borrowing and not the cumulative aggregate ... i.e. the deficit not the debt. Perhaps the problem is that both of the words deficit and debt start with "de".

  • Comment number 97.

    jobs @ 72/77

    Civil war in Labour before it goes Left? Very possibly. Whatever it takes. And normal to not know what the parties are planning? Maybe, but this crisis backdrop of the (perceived) need for savage public spending cuts is quite particular to this election, so I think we ought to be told a great deal more than we have been thus far. Still time, I suppose.

  • Comment number 98.

    There is little give aways because the give away of a generation or two, perhaps of the last hundred years has already happened. At £10bn a year, it will take 100 years to get back £1tn.

  • Comment number 99.

    "I probably wouldn't bother since what I'm saying is boring"

    My God, an epiphany, if ever I saw one....

  • Comment number 100.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.