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Daily View: Judgements on the pre-Budget report

Clare Spencer | 10:06 UK time, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Alistair DarlingCommentators make their conclusions about Alistair Darling's pre-Budget report.

The Telegraph leader says Alistair Darling's plans show that Labour is no longer fit to govern:

"The most extraordinary aspect of Alistair Darling's statement was its absurdly cavalier treatment of the deficit, a debt that is growing almost twice as fast as he predicted."

The Times leader goes one further saying yesterday the government gave up governing:

"His aim should have been that by the time he sat down everyone should accept that he realised the scale of the problem, that he had a plan to deal with it, and that this plan consisted mostly of spending reductions rather than tax rises. Sadly this turned out not to be his aim."

Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph echoes George Osborne thought that the pre-Budget report shows the power of a government:

"Wherever it lies in the polls, a Government holds most of the cards. It can make numbers say what it wants, it can use the power of executive fiat to stack tax on the rich and hand out cash to the poor, and it can deploy the weight of the state in its favour."

The Daily Mail says that the budget was about the election:

"To his everlasting shame, Mr Darling ducked his duty and chose to put the electoral interests of his party before the crying needs of his country."

More encouraging, was the Guardian editorial saying Alistair Darling may have been looking to the short term, in which case his decisions weren't bad:

"Amid awful circumstances, he did enough yesterday to secure a few not-entirely-awful headlines. This close to an election, and that far behind in the polls, that may be the best Labour could have hoped for from yesterday's PBR."

However, Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail says he doubts if Alistair Darling's reputation will ever recover from yesterday:

"He has now entered that small and select category - alongside Norman Lamont and Anthony Barber - of truly dreadful British Chancellors, those who have put selfish or factional interests before the country."

Said ex-Chancellor Norman Lamont wasn't sympathetic in the Telegraph:

"Watching Alistair Darling yesterday was like stepping into a time machine. It was as if we were observing one of Gordon Brown's long-forgotten Budgets, from the time before the bubble burst and revealed the full extent of his catastrophic mismanagement of the public finances."

Larry Elliot in the Guardian says the increase in National Insurance may not play well with workers:

"Darling no doubt anticipated the howls of outrage from Canary Wharf; in electoral terms Labour should be more concerned by the anger expressed by Dave Prentis of Unison and how higher NICs will play in Middle England."

Added to this, Hamish McRae in the Independent says the rise in taxes isn't enough:

"The problem, in a nutshell, is that you can't raise that much money from the so-called rich because there are not enough of them. The maths do not work."

Seumus Milne in the Guardian says by resisting wide-ranging cuts, Darling separates Labour from the Tories:

"Labour's 11th-hour decision to play the social justice card - even if its actions are still lagging well behind its rhetoric - may yet help it narrow the gap with the Conservatives."

Links in full

Daily Mail | Terrifying debts and surreal complacency
Peter Oborne | Daily Mail | History will be withering about Darling
Alex Brummer | Daily Mail | The chasm in our finances is simply terrifying
Guardian | Pre-budget report: All boxed in
Martin Kettle | Guardian | Darling's message to middle Britain
Seumus Milne | Guardian | With cuts looming, the issue of who pays is paramount
Larry Elliot |Guardian | Pre-budget report: A wolf in sheep's clothing
Times | Reality postponed
Benedict Brogan | Telegraph | Is Darling's statement a suicide note, or a poison pill?
Norman Lamont |Telegraph | A Government addicted to spending
Telegraph | Britain will pay dearly as Labour plays politics
Jeremy Warner | Telegraph | This Government's air of unreality deepens
Andrew Porter | Telegraph | Voters will decide if Labour was 'criminally irresponsible'
Hamish McRae | Independent | It's time we had some rules - and stuck to them
Matthew Norman | Independent | How about a supertax on Blair?
Independent | The glaring hole in this pre-Budget report
Sean O'Grady | Independent | Shadow of the IMF looms over Darling

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