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The count-yourself-lucky Budget

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Stephanie Flanders | 16:39 UK time, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

"It's bad, but not as bad as we thought - and not nearly as bad as it would have been under the Conservatives." Strip away the distractions and the gimmicks, and that was basically what the chancellor wanted to tell us in his Budget statement today.

A man watching the chancellor deliver his speech on TV

There's no getting away from the depth of this recession. But on some key measures - especially unemployment, but also the number of house repossessions, and the number of companies going bust - it's been much less bad than the headline 6% drop in output would have led you to expect. It will have given the chancellor great pleasure to point out that the claimant count is still lower than it was in 1997. The way he told it, all of those upside surprises are down to Labour policies.

Never mind that companies themselves came into this recession with stronger balance sheets than in past recessions. Never mind that the independent Bank of England cut interest rates further, and earlier than in any past downturn. Never mind that millions of people across the country have accepted steep cuts in their earnings in order to stay in their jobs - or take a new one.

Tax credits, the time to pay scheme for companies and the government's extra investment in job centres have all helped. But it goes without saying that they are far from the whole story. Yet, whether or not it can take credit for this better outcome, the government did today reap the benefits, in the first significant downward revision in the government's borrowing forecasts for at least a decade.

We can all be glad that public sector net debt will be £67bn lower in 2014-15 than he thought in December. That's £67bn down - only £1406bn to go.

As I mentioned earlier, by 2014-15, the structural on the public finances is now expected to be 2.5% of GDP, instead of 3.1%. A small part of that - just 0.1 percentage points - comes from measures announced today, notably the rise in stamp duty on houses worth over £1m. You'll note that the tax rise is permanent, whereas the tax cut for first-time buyers only lasts two years. The rest of the improvement in the structural deficit comes through more benign forecasts for spending and revenues.

The City will see that two-thirds of that improvement has fed through into lower borrowing overall in 2014-15. The City reaction to this Budget was muted today - my hunch is that will stick. This is not like the PBR, when the City saw the downside the following day. The forecast for gilt issuance next year is exactly what the City analysts were expecting.

Fitch, the ratings agency, has given a muted welcome to the Budget, though it has warned that the public finances are still vulnerable to shifts in confidence down the road. Here's what one of its economists has said:

"The lower than expected outturn for borrowing in 2009-10 is welcome, particularly in the face of weaker than expected economic growth. There has been some restoration of government's fiscal forecasting credibility following several years of deficit overshoots even before the recession. New measures to support the economy appear, by and large, to be funded by spending cuts elsewhere, or from bonus tax receipts, with the majority of the £11bn tax windfall devoted, appropriately, to lower borrowing."

Politically, he's delivered a very small net giveaway of £1.5bn for 2010-11, which gets clawed back in future years. Others will judge whether the mix of measures he's announced will do Labour any good. As I said earlier, they have clearly been chosen with Conservative discomfort in mind. But when you're borrowing £167bn, that £1.5bn figure looks like pretty small beer.

But for me the most interesting point about this Budget is what it says about Labour's strategy for re-balancing the economy. I haven't been able to go through all the numbers, but it looks to me as though that re-balancing has been rather put on hold. Growth in private investment as a share of the economy has been revised down for next year and 2012. Along with the measures to support business, he's announced new measures to boost the housing market - and consumption.

It's helpful to the Treasury in the short-term if the economy isn't going to re-balance after all: given the way the tax system is structured, it brings in a lot more in tax revenues from an economy that's "excessively dependent" on the City, property and consumption than one built on exports and investment. If the Treasury now thinks we'll see less re-balancing, in the next few years, that could explain the greater optimism on tax revenues and structural borrowing. But that short-term good news for the chancellor could still be bad news for the economy long term.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    "The count-yourself-lucky Budget"

    Yeah I counted myself lucky that I wasn't the patsy who had to give it!

    How many more incorrect projections are required before they realise that nobody trusts them anyway - it's just a waste of breath.

    We're not growing - and we're not likely too - we're still in a credit crunch!

    ...bet you won't hear that in tonights meja analysis which goes into the most boring detail on tax on fags, but misses the really important and fundamentally incorrect assumptions on growth.

    No Government has ever produced real growth whilst cutting back public expenditure in a recession - all we will get is an unsutainable bubble.

    This Government is showing it's fiscal pants of irresponsibility by subsidising the housing marke..sorry the housing bubble.

  • Comment number 2.

    Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

    Unless of course its unpopular and tomorrow someone else will have to do it......................

  • Comment number 3.

    I hate to admit it - but this did cross my mind....

    http://www.citywire.co.uk/personal/-/news/money-property-and-tax/content.aspx?ID=390056

    If you part own your house - can your next one be bought solo and you will be a 'first time buyer'?

    Another grand plan failing before the ink has dried...

  • Comment number 4.

    The budget entirely missed the private debt problem - indeed it looks like the Government in determined to shift the public sector debt to the already gigantic and entirely unsustainable private sector debt of 1.5 TN GBP. However this debt must be deflated one way or another as its present levels are totally unsustainable level and will cripple any recovery.

    Also nothing has been done for savers who are still paying the price for something they did not cause and did not take part it - some justice, some fairness.....

  • Comment number 5.

    It's bad but not as bad as we thought - and not nearly as bad as it would be under the Conservatives. A catching headline, suggests the report following on will be a sort of pro labour anti conservative. It wasn't, it was quite balanced. Well done BBC. Unfortunately, most people who access your site will just see the headline and not bother to read the rest but at least you can (under scrutiny) admit unbiased reporting. It is tabloid press at it's best. You forget that when you take the license payers money you take it from across the political spectrum but unlike say Sky tv, we do not have a choice. Therefore, the bbc needs to remain impartial and being partial by the back door does not wash. A reasonable article spoiled by a headline in order to garnour political favour is gutter reporting. Shame on you BBC. You are now the official mouthpiece of the Government. You are a whore to your political paymasters.

  • Comment number 6.

    I notice the masters of spin are at it again re targeting first time buyers. Apart from London and the outskirts, how many first time buyers are in the position of buying a house of £250,000? I would suggest the majority will purchase a property of nearer £150,000 - if they can raise sufficient deposit. Thus the Government is not giving much away. However those who are looking to move up the property ladder and are no longer first time buyers, will be hit by stamp duty even if their new property is less than £250,000 unless it is less than £125,000. Meanwhile property of more than one million will provide a minimum of £50,000 in stamp duty, though it is no doubt considered in Labour eyes that if you can afford such a property you can afford the duty. (MPs excepted as they will get their stamp duty back courtesy of you and me). Seems like a case of heads they win, tails we lose - again. Or have I missed something in any unannounced detail??

  • Comment number 7.

    No one has a fix. Proposed is depressingly long difficult times that seem to be based on people buying housing again...I thought everyone just went through that strategy. Instead of trying to recreate a system that failed it might do well the become more creative in developing a based economy, but that would disrupt the status quo and it seems that everyone will be required to suffer rather than change. The government is holding up the past and therefore the future will be created somewhere else.

  • Comment number 8.

    Definitely a budget aimed at the electorate with the forthcoming election in mind.
    Certainly not a budget to impress the money markets, why should they believe a chancellor's forecast of a growth rate of 3% to 3.5% when all his previous forecasts have been wide of the mark ?
    The national debt is set to rise annually and could reach £900 billion.
    we would be having to find £50 annually in interest alone.
    In the words of a famous person whose name eludes me "I fear for my Country".

  • Comment number 9.

    Labour (on their highly dubious figures) claim to be on course to reduce the deficit a bit quicker than they previously thought. How come that is a good thing, but, when the Conservatives suggest it, they are accused of undermining the recovery?

  • Comment number 10.

    Growth in private investment as a share of the economy has been revised down for next year and 2012.

    This is one of the keys to future prosperity. Yet even with bucket loads of "help" it continues to fall?

    Considering it took so long to announce all these wonderful things that will only cost £1.5 Billion, I'd love to know what the other £160 odd Billion borrowing this year is achieving.

    Stephanie, I'm surprised that in the summing up I saw you and your colleagues doing on BBC2 that it was never mentioned that there can be no "hiccup" for 5 years for this budget to hold together. As you know, every 1% of growth not achieved is about £15 Billion less GDP and £5 Billion less income. So we only need one of the years to have a little "blip" of 1% growth instead of 3.25% growth, and this budget is completed discredited.

    Now, how can a prudent budget not realistically expect that over the next 5 years, starting from such uncertainty, there would not be at least 1 dip of growth in it? And we are meant to have any belief in it?


  • Comment number 11.

    Stephanie, Brother Brown and Politburo Peter have decided that the next 5 year plan should feature off-shore wind in addition to cyber-tractors for country dwellers. Can you have a Stephanomic look at offshore wind and see if the investment stacks up since we will also need to build all that expensive nuclear standby capacity for the days the wind doesn't blow. Feels like reading Soviet history all over again. As for the new digital hi-tech Britain, don't we need to sort out the lo-tech trade imbalances first?

  • Comment number 12.

    3

    The definition of a first time buyer as far as the budget is concerned, is someone who has never appeared on the Land Registry

    To introduce a fact into the hyperbole

  • Comment number 13.

    I see that they done the unfair Broadband Tax despite protests

  • Comment number 14.

    You say ....There's no getting away from the depth of this recession. But on some key measures - especially unemployment, but also the number of house repossessions

    However, the true numbers of repossessions are hidden by the fact that these houses that are being repossessed are not hitting the market because

    1) The goverment know how intwined the housing market is with the economy thus any surge in repo's hitting the auction houses will have a negative impact on sentiment.

    2) Goverment intervention at a massive cost to the tax payer has kept alot of people who were wreckless when borrowing money (liar loans/ self cert mortgages) in their houses.

    3) Banks have set up shell companies to keep these repossessed properties off their balance sheets (Illius Property Services being but one of them, now owned by the Co op bank) and hedging on the market improving at a later date ( some chance of that)

    That's just one example of Liebour cooking the books, if i had more time I'd get onto unemployment and Inflation!

  • Comment number 15.

    Cameron is right. We must get ride of this incompetent government to get our country back on it's feet.

  • Comment number 16.

    This budget was nothing to what is to come: While G Brown was chancellor; the handling of the countries gold and selling it at the lowest price. This should nail him down for good.

  • Comment number 17.

  • Comment number 18.

    Well I give up, when i wor a lad, planning to spend more than you had coming in indefinitely wasn't thought wise, now apparently its safeguarding the economy.....I'm not trying to be clever or political.... I genuinely don't understand how this works... doesnt it matter that we are getting further into debt ... anyone ?

  • Comment number 19.

    #12
    "To introduce a fact into the hyperbole"

    ======================================================
    Do you have to do that - ruins a good argument :)

    Back to the budget.

    Very political and quite clever (is there an election round the corner), probably lead to another 5 years of NuLabor, and another 5 years after that, and another 5....

    Like the way the deficit is morphing into a self-shrinking deficit.

    Poor Dave & George looked quite lost. Hope they have kept their membership fees up to date re. Bulingdon Club.

  • Comment number 20.

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

  • Comment number 21.

    So he's going to pump up the housing bubble again, is he ?? That should impress the foreign investors no end !!

  • Comment number 22.

    onward-ho 17

    or how about this link

    http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/budget-2010-bond-vigilantes-slam-budget-as-uk-downgrade-moves-closer-tele-3755e532dc38.html

    some quotes for people to ponder

    'It is remarkable that a government with a budget deficit of 11.8pc of GDP thinks it can safely expand a state sector already consuming 52pc of GDP, or that it can convince global markets that brisk growth of 3.5pc a year will whittle away the debt.'

    'We are heading for a downgrade because I dont think this is going to look like a credible plan to Standard & Poors or the other rating agencies.'

    'Eurozone states are cutting their deficits to 3pc of GDP within three years. Britain is cutting to 5.2pc over four years...The difficulty is that Britain already sticks out like a sore thumb.'

    'the UK is facing "the most rapid rise in the ratio of public debt to GDP of any AAA-rated country. Why the UK thinks it has more time than other countries , were not sure."

    backward-ho

  • Comment number 23.

    15. At 7:06pm on 24 Mar 2010, Putney wrote:

    "Cameron is right. We must get ride of this incompetent government to get our country back on it's feet."

    Can't really argue with that, but surely no one believes his lot will do any better?

  • Comment number 24.

    Reada 23

    'Can't really argue with that, but surely no one believes his lot will do any better?'

    Except for anyone who recognises how well the economy was performing before Labour took over, and how much damage they've done over the last 13 years.

  • Comment number 25.

    17 20 22
    20 QUOTED SAME LINK AS 22

    WELL THEY WOULD SAY THAT WOULDN'T THEY!

  • Comment number 26.

    Whenever I have had to do a budget in industry, it has to be signed off by my manager. How about getting the government's budget signed off by the Bank of England or some such body? I admit that neither the Treasury nor the BOE's financial models are that reliable but it would be good if another body got to check the budget. The budget never seems to feature the cost of PFI, public sector pay, old age pension nor public sector pension details, which are all effectively index linked. Then politicians could just have a bun fight regarding their slice of the cake and not invent money or bring forward money from future years multiple times, which they do frequently.

  • Comment number 27.

    On the subject of first time buyers, the number of mergers going on in the building societies has shrunk them down from over 2000 to just 50 on the FSA register. RBS and LloydsTSB have been ordered to hold more capital as well as lend more so they are just confused. The overseas banks have left, which leaves a very small number of mortgage providers with a lot less competition. Anyway why would anyone take out a mortgage at the moment with the employment situation as it is.

  • Comment number 28.

    What do people expect to hear: the sky is falling..we're all doomed.
    Please, the problem is what didn't happen that caused the mess to begin with but what is...is. Apparently none of the parties have a plan that will work in the short term so atleast some promised magic lantern isn't being proposed or one of those "elect me now and I will tell you later" proposals. It is always based on a set of assumptions that may or may not happen. Supporters will praise and opponents will condemn....but the future is where the answer will be. The question is always the same:
    WHO BENEFITS?

  • Comment number 29.

    So where does "not nearly as bad as it would have been under the Conservatives" come from.
    Typical lefty bias BBC again

  • Comment number 30.

    onward-ho 25

    'WELL THEY WOULD SAY THAT WOULDN'T THEY!'

    Yes, given that it's true.

  • Comment number 31.

    Your last 2 paragraphs are the most worrying really....Have we gone through all this pain for nothing? Will we see our taxes rise and our public services cut to the bone in future years simply in order to underwrite for the banks a new world of high debt/low wage consumers? I thought it was a given, taken for granted by everyone that the bad old days of the past could not go on into the future! Don't forget that we now stand behind the banks...and they know it. Don't forget that we also stand behind the rising housing bubble as well, on the one hand paying the mortgages of people who lose their jobs or take a cut in wages, and on the other funding the part rent bit of the part rent/part buy mortgages for first time buyers. If we don't rebalance our economy won't we just become a society up to its neck in debt at 0.5% interest rates? What happens when the next recession comes along? And why aren't the other political parties making anything of this?

  • Comment number 32.

    All fine words about the level of unemployment, but Govt conveniently forgets that the level of those on incapacity benefit has grown inexorably since they came to power. This hidden unemployment costs us about £10billion every year. Then you've got the NEET's and the fact that the number of people in employment has fallen makes me think that this is just more NuLabour Spin. Only a third of the story, conveniently and quietly forgetting the bad news. At least the Tories have a plan to deal with the whole problem rather than just a part of it. They would make those claiming sickness benefit take tests and if they proved capable of working, they would convert them to Jobseekers. Clearly this would increase the unemployment rate, but at least it would be the truth.

  • Comment number 33.

    Labour the party of lies and envy have now added spitefulness and childishness to their portfolio.

  • Comment number 34.

    "The count-yourself-lucky Budget"

    I think that we have witnessed another soak the poor and low to middle income workers budget. Small businesses and anyone who has to drive to work will be hit hard in the wallet again with a further 3p fuel duty increases. Darling had the gall to say that the 1p increase in April was below inflation. Yes, but over the year the extra 1p additions will take it comfortably over. Just one more example of Labour lies and spin.

  • Comment number 35.

    Stephanie wrote:"But for me the most interesting point about this Budget is what it says about Labour's strategy for re-balancing the economy........ but it looks to me as though that re-balancing has been rather put on hold."

    Now there's a surprise. The characteristic of the Nu Labour's Fiscal approach has been expediency, tinkering and spending like there is no tomorrow. It's an approach hardly conducive to strategic thinking. There's no vision of the future so there's no ability to envision rebalancing, so that's why it's on hold! Sounds like Catch 22!

  • Comment number 36.

    Darling did what he could within the framework of trying to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse

    It is somewhat of a false presentation of the facts, though, to boast about 'creating' loads of extra university places, to spend taxpayers money on pseudo-training schemes for the under 25s who have been out of work for 6 months, and then to claim that unemployment is down because of Labour policy!

    So called unemployment is down because all the unemployed people are shoved somewhere else to take them off the figures

    The fact 10 million people are economically inactive in this country is a disgrace, and I sympathise with those that do not wish to be inactive

    It was a budget that contained very little, if anything that could upset the voters, apart from those who drink cider

    Economically, the government are either in denial, or genuinely deluded

    The figures still don't add up, and I just don't see the growth coming that is needed to balance the government's numbers

    The Ashcroft cries are just stupid, as nothing illegal has been done

    To me, Unite and Unison funding the labour party is no different

    The number of labour MPs in the mire at the moment beggars belief, and if the expenses scandal had not disengaged so many, you wonder if there would have been more of a backlash

    We need a new government asap to try and repair yet another spend, spend, spend labour failure

    I credit Darling for maintaining his dignity, in a government where nearly all are covered in the stench of scandal

    I can't wait for the papers on the gold sale to come out

    The pension papers will also be interesting

    Roll on the real budget in July from a real government


  • Comment number 37.

    19

    Richard

    If you think that, put a few euros on it

    I don't, I think the debates will nail Brown

    He got very flustered today, and Cameron will eat him alive

  • Comment number 38.

    Shame on you bbc. You must get in this pro labour headline

    "It's bad, but not as bad as we thought - and not nearly as bad as it would have been under the Conservatives."

    Just as I always believed the bbc to be a labour supporter.

  • Comment number 39.

    #37 kevin

    He was floundering around hopelessly on the question as to why an appeal has been put in to stop the release of the effects of the £5bn a year pensions raid. I would be interested to see the reasoning behind it and what consideration was given to private sector pension schemes by the then 'Iron' Chancellor.

    I think history will see him renamed as the arsenic Chancellor.

  • Comment number 40.

    Whilst Alistair Darling may be trying to put the sentence you started this blog with in the minds of the voters Stephanie I suspect that many will wonder how anyone could have done worse than what has happened in the last two years. His improvement in the budget deficit is a bit like Avram Grant claiming this evening that his team did well not to lose 6-0 to Chelsea and so 5-0 is a good result!

    As to the stamp duty move to zero rate it for two years for first time buyers under £250k I think it needs more analysis from you. I notice that notayesmanseconomics web blog feels that we are in the middle of a house price bubble and that we are in danger of encouraging first time buyers to join in with potentially calmitous consequences. What is your view as an economist on our housing market Stephanie?

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm a newbie to these blogs, and not politically active - I'm one of those 'silent Brits' who has had enough of career politicians who rip off the tax payer, couldn't organise a beer mat in a brewery and look down their noses at their public.
    If I were stupid & naive, I might think Darling's budget plausible. But I'm not - and I couldn't sleep peacefully if I had voted for yet more of this shabby and conceited government in May.
    Gordon, darling, it's goodby from me and it's good bye from him.
    Nuff said. Lets get on with restoring some value back into this country. I predict a very high turnout at this General Election!!

  • Comment number 42.

    39

    The rusted fist....busted prudence...take your pick

    Cameron has been dreadful since Christmas, and finally seems to be waking up, just in time

    The last debate is on BBC with Mr Dimbleby on 29th April after Q1 GDP figures released, with the topic being the Economy

    Cameron is more effective, and Brown is less effective when asking, and being asked short questions

    Brown loses his temper so quickly, it is going to be yet more car crash TV after despatches

    On the question of the appeal on the two topics, what justification can there be?

    I know it goes back to Blair, I also hope Dr David Kelly get's 'fair treatment' at some point

    The SNP will also be going on the attack in Scotland, and that could really hurt Labour

  • Comment number 43.

    Well done Cameron for verbalising what so many sensible think. That we have been led at our moment of greatest political and economic need by the worse set of governments in living memory. And before anyone says it - no the Tories would not be worse - no-one could be.

  • Comment number 44.

    #38 Keith Wild

    Here we go again!

    The Tory Bloggers are out.

    Another balanced article again from a respected BBC correspondent gets an accusation of bias fron a Tory.

    If you read these blogs regularly you'll know this is a tactic being employed by Tory Central office to try and discredit BBC reporting and try and instigate a false sense of outrage and disgust amongst voters.

    Unfortunately I have news for all you Tory HQ bloggers - the latest opinion poll shows only a 2% gap. Voters aren't falling for your stealth tactics of trying to influence the media.

    On the budget today I thought it was a very solid workmanlike budget, explaining how we can reduce the debt without causing a double dip recession.

    The Tories would slash public spending further, making more people unemployed, hurt the poorest and most vulnerable people in society and the growth prospects for the country.

    Can anyone remember the 90's and negative equity and repossessions caused by the Tories laissez-faire policies?

    The reason why unemployment and homeowners have not been as adversely affected by this recession has a lot to do with the help provided by this government.

    Not to mention that Labour saved the banks when the Tories would have let them go to the wall and whole economy collapse.

    We need to not risk our recovery on a Conservative government who only have the interests of rich Etonians at heart.

    Bring on the general election.


  • Comment number 45.

    One key reason unemployment didn't go higher is the fact that the public sector has been the part of the economy that's been do the employing over the past decade. It's massive, it's bloated, it's unsustainable, and it'll be left to someone else to dole out the bad news to the civil service.

  • Comment number 46.

    Stephanie

    You said 'The way he told it, all of those upside surprises are down to Labour policies. ... Never mind that the independent Bank of England cut interest rates further, and earlier than in any past downturn.'

    The Bank of England's independence -is- down to Labour policies. Giving it that control of interest rates was one of the first things Labour did on coming to power. So if the Bank did the right thing this time Labour does have a right to claim credit for giving it the freedom to do so.

  • Comment number 47.

    See house prices move to fill the Stamp Duty gap.... It really isn't that difficult to work out what will happen, is it?

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.

    I see the BBC hasn't mentioned that Darling's projections for borrowing are based on incredible growth of over three percent for several consecutive years from next year. Pure fantasy. Pure madness. BBC is not interested in this at all for some reason. Wonder why?.

  • Comment number 50.

    This so called budget merely confirmed what most independent commentators have been saying for some time - without an over-inflated housing bubble driving consumer spending, Labour have absolutley no idea how to generate growth in the economy.

    No help for savers, no help for house buyers (the stamp duty holiday does nothing to address the root problem of mortgage availability for those of us not underwritten by the bank of mum and dad), no help for motorists, and Darling has now alienated most of the west country along with pretty much every teenager in the country with the ridiculous jump in cider duty.

    The fact that the real budget will come after the election regardless of who wins doesn't exactly fill me with hope either.

  • Comment number 51.

    I pay my licence fee (for which I have no choice) to help fund a supposedly impartial public broadcasting service. The headline of this blog makes a joke of any such supposed impartiality.

  • Comment number 52.

    It seems to me that we are lucky if we ever get a Chancellor who has any economic credentials, or an experienced lawyer drafting new laws. Time and time again we have seen that our politicians have no principles, except "keep the voters happy". So we are governed by unprincipled amateurs!

    All these new laws we get saddled with are just an extra burden on the administration. It would therefore seem a good idea to have a constitution to govern the actions of our government! A government's power to "spend spend spend" must be limited to what can be afforded. State handouts must be limited by our ability to pay for them. If the pie is smaller, the slices will be smaller.

    Today we have an unbalanced economy. More is being spent than can be afforded. I think we can all agree on this. The big problem, that no one seems to have stated before, is that no one is willing to give up any of their current share. Thus the rich and powerfull will keep what they have and the workers (actual wealth creators) and pensioners will get poorer. Sounds like a recipe for revolution to me but never mind. (As Bob Dylan said: "When you've got nothin', you've got nuthin' to lose")

    This is the result of a transition from a "high wage economy" to a "low wage economy". We are not alone in facing this.

    We have stumbled from crisis to crisis ever since I can remember! (quite a long time) At some point we will not emerge from the crisis intact. This could be it: we have miniscule industry; no savings; no oil or gas left; mountains of debt; and worst of all - a discredited (and unfair) democracy.

    If we cannot manage the transition in a fair way then it will be a nightmare living in Britain. Only one party is offering "Fairness" as a party policy - a Principal. Are we all willing to buy in to this? Probably not. If we could be assured of fairness across the board and we had a constitution that guaranteed it, it might be possible - but in the current economic mess it will be difficult. I will be voting for the LIBDEMS. Principles before politics.

  • Comment number 53.

    Favourable comments on this page due to BBC being part of the untouchable public sector with inflated (especially senior) salaries.

    How the some civil and public sector unions have the cheek to strike for improved pay or conditions when they (and Parliament) have driven us to this mess is beyond belief - of course times of financial crisis have always been the best times for socialist/communist growth!

    The criminal activities in cheating on expenses by all shades of MPs now coupled to the attempts to sell future contacts by lobbying just show how far the standards of our elected representatives have fallen. Given that, why should we believe a word the Chancellor said about his optimism of future growth. He is just trying to get another five years of comfort and excessive income.

  • Comment number 54.

    29. At 8:45pm on 24 Mar 2010, John Day wrote:

    So where does "not nearly as bad as it would have been under the Conservatives" come from.
    Typical lefty bias BBC again

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    100% Agree - Exactly!

    Where is the economic analysis for an economics blog?

    The Chancellor carefully avoided discussing the Great Recession and lack of 'growth' and the Chancellor abdicated responsibility - just like the prudent Great Bully - Goondog Trillionaire.

    Where is the economic analysis?

  • Comment number 55.

    Ages ago I watched the OJ Simpson trial (America) on telly: the state prosecutors brought in a glove (found at the crime scene and purpotedly won by the culprit during the crime) for OJ to try on - it didn't fit. The prosecutors then explained that it didn't fit because it had shrunk in its exposure to the cold! I wondered then how the prosecution would have taken it if the glove had fitted and the defence had explained that the glove was actually larger than OJ but now fitted because it had shrunk in the cold to OJ's size. And I wonder now how Stephanie Flanders and others of similar view would comment if the recession had been as terrible as predicted, but the government explains that the steps they have taken have not borne any improvement because "companies themselves did not come into this recession with stronger balance sheets than in past recessions; that the independent Bank of England did not cut interest rates further, and earlier than in any past downturn; and that millions of people across the country have not accepted steep cuts in their earnings in order to stay in their jobs - or take a new one." I just wonder!
    Definitely, the measures taken by the government have helped to significantly stem the recession, and turn us back earler towards recovery and they should rightly take the credit if others are reluctant to hand that to them.

  • Comment number 56.

    The minimum requirement for a BBC licence payer, like myself, on the day following a UK government budget is a full big picture snapshot of the UK government finances to see where 'taxpayer money' and all government money is being generated and spent and where it is reasonable to expect that 'cuts' will be made.

    The BBC can show expensive documentaries with e.g. giant snails on the sea bed in the mid Atlantic - but is unable or unwilling to get some figures out of HM Government?

    Are the BBC journalists incompetent and/or just biased?

    The BBC have been the recipient of thousands of government 'leaks' over the years - but still cannot themselves produce a reaonable snapshot of UK government finances?

    I wonder why? Voters have the right to know and see a proper breakdown of all government figures.

  • Comment number 57.

    This article is disgraceful on at least two counts. I am not a Conservative, but the opening statement, featured prominently on the BBC home page "not nearly as bad as under the Conservatives" is without substance. The Conservatives have not been in power, Labour has presided over the worst economic mess this country has ever seen. To claim it was imported or unavoidable is dishonest. Canada has no sub-prime problem and has the strongest currency in the world. As there is no evidence for Ms Flanders statement, it confirms the BBC's anti-Tory stance.
    Second, she disgracefully approves the unemployment figure as being fair and representative at 1.6m. There are 8m people who have given up looking for work because they cannot find any. There are over 7m people working part-time many because they can't find full-time work or because their employer has reduced their hours. How do I know this? Because I'm a 61 year old man who has to wait until 65 for his now non-indexed state pension and who has tried without success for almost a year to find work. I'm frightened. The public sector is now 52% of the economy; I've paid my taxes and supported this. We need an enterprising government to create wealth and get people back to work.

  • Comment number 58.

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

  • Comment number 59.

    The Euro is now at a 10 month low v the $, and the Greece situation is not going away

    This could still have an impact on the election, as if 'something happens to Greece' with Portugal's credit rating being down graded, it will draw more attention to the UK economy

    Hopefully, it will also put the thought of this country ever joining the Euro out to grass for good

    I don't see parity between Sterling and the Euro, looking at the last two years movements, and the relative scenarios

    More likely back to 1.15+

    Sorry Richard D

  • Comment number 60.

    Just listened to George Osborne interview on the Today programme, said absolutely nothing. What a complete lightweight. I think I'll stick with Labour, due to a complete abscence of any viable alternative.

  • Comment number 61.

    This is not so much a budget as a fornication.

    Even the broken alcoholic, homeless and dependent upon his scrumpy, the very dregs of society is being forced to cadge a further few pence for his daily slug.

    How low is that?

    Is this what it has come to: taxing the people in the gutter?

    Well, unlike the bankers and their bonuses we have no contractual obligations to alcoholics so presumably they can go and get stuffed!

  • Comment number 62.

    #60. EalingWelsh wrote:

    "I think I'll stick with Labour, due to a complete absence of any viable alternative"

    So far as I can ascertain all the politicians talk about is the public budget deficit. Their solutions nearly all include persuading the private sector to take on more debt secured on ridiculously over priced property. This is plain stupid and will not work. However, returning to my theme of over a year ago when this crisis started, what we need is a National Government that does the proper economic thing and not tell us all a pack of half-truths.

    Economically the most pressing need is to deflate private debt - even more urgent that public debt. The absolute last thing we need as an economy or a country is to re-inflate already over inflated property prices. Property prices dampen the international competitiveness of business far more successfully than anything else as vastly over priced land and buildings cripples any and every new business and this all flows from vastly over priced houses.

  • Comment number 63.

    30
    So government borrowing comes in 10% lower than predicted by the experts, the debt increase gets reduced a third of the time less than predicted, and some raters say our credit should be downgraded .... v strange.

    Do the raters declare who pays them, and if there is any conflict of interest in their ratings?

    Who rates the raters?

    What was the dawn raid on insider trading about?

    Are the Germans investigating the raters and the bets made on their ratings?

    Methinks we should be told ...... are some people privy to downgrading of ratings before others and is money made on this?

  • Comment number 64.

    Isn't this budget analogous to telling a morbidly obese person that they can have a little bit more cake, when what they really need to do is go on a diet?
    Our society and economy has been fuelled and corrupted by greed for the best part of two decades, and now we find ourselves bloated, saturated and lethargic.
    Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have been the "friends" who have reassured us that "no, your bum does not look big" and lied to us about the size of our waistbands, but the truth is now hitting home as our economy sits slumped in an armchair, sucking desperately at the oxygen pump that is quantitative easing and staring its own mortality dead in the face.
    I'm not a fan of Thatcher, but she foresaw that a socialist government would eventually run out of other peoples' money to spend, and that's where we're at now. Gordon has not only spent the taxes, and the loans but he's also sold your pension, the nation's gold reserves and stolen directly from the pockets of the next generation, and probably generations to follow that one as well.
    The British public need to wise up and realise that the labour government is as much about spin now as it ever has been. The figures being presented will be spun to present the best picture possible, and the only effect that government policy is really having is the effect of hiding the true complexion of our current situation from the majority of the electorate.
    This country needs to drag itself to the gym and begin the process of shedding the excess pounds accumulated during the years in which it has been overfed by the labour party. The road to recovery is long and hard but very very possible if we pull together, invest in nationalised savings and banking with responsible balance sheets, and put money into British enterprise and industry.

  • Comment number 65.

    I think that Steph is just having a bit of fun with her opening line and getting those with an unusually thin skin at it! Best to read the whole article before you dive straight into the anti-BBC rantings and hit the post comment key. Whilst I am not an apologist for the BBC, I do have to say (paraphrasing Churchill)that the BBC is without doubt the worst broadcaster, aside from all the rest.
    Moving on to the budget, Brown must be running out of ways to clobber "rich" people which is all fine and dandy when it comes to shoring up core support, but the problem remains that their small numbers make total receipts relatively insignificant in the scheme of things as well as making people the next level down question the point of actually working harder/smarter to move on up. Seems that Ed Balls has got his way, which is kind of ironic for a privately educated Harvard graduate.
    Still, the good news is that plans are in place to reduce the national debt by half within the next 4 years. Actually, hang on a minute, I think that I may have misunderstood this bit, oh yes I have, silly me, the plan is actually to double national debt within the next 4 years. Phew, I am glad that's sorted, I was beginning to get worried for a moment, but it is easy to see how the misunderstanding could arise.
    Thank goodness for growth though! 3-3.5% next year which is fantastic bearing in mind that the economy is 6% smaller than it was 18 months ago and that this can be achieved with 24% of the working population economically inactive. It is amazing what politicians can do nowadays, a jobless recovery, who would have thought?
    And finally of course, the public sector. Now accounting for 52% of the economy, so all those terribly efficient people working in the private sector able to create not only enough money for their own wages, but enough to pay for a public sector worker each plus a bit extra for good luck. No wonder those cost savings that Darling promised us will not lead to a single public sector worker losing their job. And as for that business of having a Public Spending Review before the election, how unfair is that? The poor man has just saved the global economy from utter destruction, he must be exhausted. And what would he base the figures on anyway? The situation is so complex at the moment that any figures would be unreliable, so what is the point? No, he is quite right, let's wait until after the election when the votes have all been counted and things have settled down a bit. At that point, the situation will be less complex, the figures will be more reliable and then he will be able to go the people that count in our front line services and explain to them how he is going to deal with the public finances over the next 3 years. No need to concern yourselves, you can trust him. After all, just look at what Labour has has achieved over the last 13 years in terms of what they took on and where we are now. A no brainer, surely?

  • Comment number 66.

    62

    All you talk about is 5% interest rates NOW

    40% reduction in house prices NOW

    What do you think this will do to the millions who will then be in negative equity?

    In trying to correct one serious issue, you will simply create a different one in it's place.

    Pointless, and in my view, non-sensical

    Your argument is that the banks will have to buy the 'spare stock' and sell it 'the correct price' thereby meaning that even more 'wealth' will be concentrated in the hands of those who are super-rich now

    Private debt deflation is the twin sister of eroding debt by inflation, each hurt the wrong people, and reward the irresponsible

    I do not for a moment suggest that you do not have the right to your opinion, I just do not agree in any way with it

    Quite the opposite

    Before you start referring me to links of so called academics, please bear in mind that at any given tim in history, academia is subject to fashions and trends like ay other part of human behaviour

    As it is academic, the trends and fashions are reflected in theories of this, that and the other..ie thinking

    Only for another bunch of academics to come along later, and 'prove' that the earlier mob was wrong, and purple is the new black, orange is the new purple etc..

    Scientists still can't prove that the bumble bee can fly, yet I have seen them do it, with m own eyes

    Governmental debt will have to be brushed under some enormous rug at some point, which will then allow taxation on the public to reduce, in general terms globally

    This in turn, will allow private debt to be reduced

    FDD asked me whether my view that the public in general are reducing debt (where they can) as opposed to spending is based on fact or opinion

    It is based on the net mortgage lending figures reducing and total credit card borrowing

    I can't do the link things, based on facts, though

    Having a systematic response is NOT the answer in any way in my view

    I cannot recall, I think you advocate joining the Euro too?

    You will have seen my earlier comments on that

  • Comment number 67.

    23. At 7:58pm on 24 Mar 2010, Reada wrote:


    "Cameron is right. We must get ride of this incompetent government to get our country back on it's feet."

    Very true, but even if the conservatives get a clear majority, they would still have to make very unpopular decisions, that might see them losing the next election in 4/5 years time! Perhaps it would be better to see a hung parliament for a few years with Gordon Brown and the 'spendaholics' clinging on and having to make decisions that would condemn Labour to the wilderness for 15-20 years! Unless the conservatives get a thumping great majority, then winning the election is really a poisened chalice.



  • Comment number 68.

    This article and this government are now bankrupt:

    The NHS has just released figures showing the number of NHS MANAGERS rose by 12% last year, while the number of NURSES rose 2%.

    And that in a year where our spending deficit has rocketed and millions of people, especially savers are suffering real pain and higher taxes.

    Average salaries for managers must be at least double those for nurses.

    The managers are simply policing central targets.

    A Chancellor refusing to cut spending this year while thousands of new index-link superannuated Managers graze their snouts in the taxpayers trough.

    Utterly disgraceful! We need a Government that will stop this runaway train now.

  • Comment number 69.

    66

    To clarify my poorly made point in the above

    When I refer to net mortgage lending, I mean the total, not the net monthly ongoing figures, which are obviously lower...the fact the total outstanding is reducing, proves debt is being repaid

  • Comment number 70.

    Your headlines on bbc homepage

    "It's bad, but not as bad as we thought - and not nearly as bad as it would have been under the Conservatives."

    typically BBC bias in favour of Labour ?? Absolutely disgracefull !!

    What is the BBC afraid of if the Conservatives win the election???

  • Comment number 71.

    #65 "I think that Steph is just having a bit of fun with her opening line.."
    Last week Steph was lauded by Tory bloggers for criticising the government's economic performance - now once again these narrow minded people pick up on any points in a balanced piece that favour the government's position. Well done "geofffromleeds" - maybe a bit of Yorkshire common sense (if I interpret your username correctly) is what we all need in this difficult time for the country.On the budget - I have watched / listened to most of the BBC coverage and healthy scepticism seems to run through most of it.

    This budget was never going to address the major spending issues flagged for the spending review later this year. Whilst the timing for this looks politically motivated in part , the Tories should be glad that they won't have to overturn major spending decisions and plunge the country in to further chaos, should they, as seems likely, be returned to power in May. I think, however , that the departmental "savings" announced yesterday are a political mistake. They imply that decisions could be made quicker than the governments timetable for the spending review suggests and undermine the "we won't cut early" message.

  • Comment number 72.

    I cant beleive Darling has increased tax on cider by 10%!!! How desperate are labour when they raise tax for people between the ages of 13 and 17!!! He claims this is to stop underage drinking, i have an idea, lower the drinking age or increase enforcement of it, instead of charging your ordinary cider lovers who are above the drinking age!!!

  • Comment number 73.

    #70 - Buffoon! The report was well balanced and a good represenation of fact.

  • Comment number 74.

    When the Conservatives left office, the spending deficit was falling towards zero and the total net debt was c£350m. On Alastair Darling's own figures, at the end of the next parliament it will be £1.5 TRILLION pounds, that is £23000 for every man woman and child, or £50000 for every person in work!

    Someone has to deal with this.

    Meanwhile, at 10.05 the BBC News carried the story about a 12% increase in NHS Managers.

    At 10.36, the NEWS front page was carrying later stories, but not a mention of this astonishing information.

    Presumably Stephanie has been asked to urgently put a positive spin on it?

  • Comment number 75.

    # 67 mypov

    I said it a few weeks back "tongue in cheek", Call me Dave does n't want "to win" . Why would he ? He will step into the biggest mess for some decades, financial crisis, wars we can't win, union unrest. Far better to just lose, and let GB prove his point. Come the end of this year he can head up the cavalry charge in our relief.

    As days /weeks go by, I have to say I see little to persuade me this is not the case. PMQ after the budget was Showtime, but do we really want a comedian for our leader?

    And when last I muted the prospect, I offered as an outside bet that Meddlesome would cross the floor of the House when the gooo hits the fan.

    On Newsnight the other night he and Clarke were almost kissing eugh!

  • Comment number 76.

    A bit of a non-budget really although that's what most people expected given the parlous state of the economy and the little nuisance of an election in the offing.

    First thing is that everybody got a tax rise, hooray (hang on, that means I will pay more tax, Doh!). Personal allowances remained static which is a tax increase by fiscal drag.

    Second thing is why did he pick on Cider, an almost exclusively domestic industry ? Why didn't he pick on Champagne instead, stronger than most ciders and is exclusively an imported product ?

    I think that most of the general public are under no illusions about the state of public finance and believe that whoever is in power after the election will not make the blind bit of difference (pain now or pain deferred but definitely pain somewhere along the line)

    In this election it is not going to be 'the economy stupid' that sways the voters, it will be the rest of the baggage that they will bring to the party.

    Do you want 5 years of social unrest due to a barrage of ill-thought legislation in favour of state intrusion, forced recycling (your bins only emptied fortnightly), health and safety paralysis and financial irregularities/corruption etc.

    Or do you want 5 years of social unrest do to barrage of ill-thought legislation in favour of state retrenchment, forced recycling (bin workers on strike), privatised health and safety exec and sex scandals/corruption etc.

    I can see why the polls are so narrow.

  • Comment number 77.

    Here's the solution:
    The Lloyds TSB shares the Government owns are just about what they paid, at 64p wortn c£20bn; the RBS shares 10% below at 45p, worth more than £40bn. If the Tories were in power, the Stock Market would rocket. At 180p for Lloyds (they were 200p 2 years ago) and 120p for RBS (300p 2 years ago), the 2010 deficit would be zero...

  • Comment number 78.

    #66 KevinB

    Re: Bumblebees - apparently their wings fold in a way that they generate lift on both the forward and backwards stroke which gives just enough lift to get them airborne, the flight that follows is not the most elegant although I'm sure the padding helps when they are bouncing off things :)

    They appear to have been designed by a MOD committee and built by a private consortium with an everchanging brief.
    (Transport aircraft with defensive and reconissance capabilities, must use locally sourced revolutionary propulsion system)

  • Comment number 79.

    The markets move in wondrous ways their beauty to behold. And their beauty is their financial backing. Europe and the Euro must still be in their sights. Germany is creaking and the stability of the Franco German alliance must be at best, questionable. If there is not a fully supported / funded EMU then Greece must once again be at risk with open season being declared. Now Portugal has had it's credit rating downgraded from AA to -AA with that minus sign adding millions to finance its debt. There are also question being asked about the other members of the PIIGS club. All in all is this a train wreck about to happen.

    Why bring this up - well two reasons;

    1) Europe is one of our largest markets and as such we are reliant on it being buoyant to assist with our recovery. So if Europe is not fully open for business it will be greatly detrimental to our recovery.

    2) Our current state has numerous similarities to those of the PIIGS. As such our rating must and will be called into question and as we paid more than £31 billion last year to service our debt and move in our rating could be very costly.

    Still more questions than answers - the budget may do more harm than good once the detail is out.

  • Comment number 80.

    76. At 10:46am on 25 Mar 2010, BobRocket wrote:
    'Do you want 5 years of social unrest due to a barrage of ill-thought legislation in favour of state intrusion, forced recycling (your bins only emptied fortnightly), health and safety paralysis and financial irregularities/corruption etc'.

    'Or do you want 5 years of social unrest do to barrage of ill-thought legislation in favour of state retrenchment, forced recycling (bin workers on strike), privatised health and safety exec and sex scandals/corruption etc'.


    Are there no other options Bob?
    Does it really have to be like this?
    Maybe we could mix and match.



  • Comment number 81.

    #59
    "Hopefully, it will also put the thought of this country ever joining the Euro out to grass for good"

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

    A sense of proportion is needed.

    Ask yourself 2 questions

    - which is the strongest and biggest economy in the Eurozone
    - how big are Greece and Portugal

    Certainly the Euro is sailing through choppy waters but please do not confuse growing pains (Eurozone) with death rattles (UK).

    It will be interesting to see how this pans out but if I was a betting man (and I am) I would put money on closer fiscal union rather collapse.

    The German position is the correct one, a bailout would be the start of a slippery slope. Neither Greece nor Portugal want to leave the Euro that much is a given.

    I also reiterate my forecast that the UK will be a proud member of the Eurozone no later than 2016.

  • Comment number 82.

    For all of those still thinking of backing for/voting the current administration back in you might like to provide a comment on the sheer incompetence of the decision to sell gold by the PM.

    IT COST US £7 BILLION. YES - THE ASSETS OF TAXPAYERS.

    Brown doesn't even want to release the papers surrounding his decision even after being asked under the Freedom of Information Act. He may get hit with a court order.

    But lets' start there shall we first before moving on to debate some other rather dubious stuff?

    Anybody feeling lucky?

  • Comment number 83.

    Borrowing £450 million pounds a day against no real collateral just a promise, at virtually negative real term interest rates! Makes the cash flow problems the banks had look very small beer.

    The credit crunch has allowed the current administration to disguise the huge structural economic problems it has created. Trying to maintain the unsustainable size of the public sector is just delaying and increasing the pain in the future. The real problems with the UK economy do not stem from the excesses of the finance sector they are rooted in the crowding out of private sector investment and resources by an unaffordable public sector. The sooner we transfer resources and investment over to the private sector, the sooner we might achieve real economic growth, if this creates a period of higher unemployment it is a price we will unfortunately have to pay.

  • Comment number 84.

    81. At 11:01am on 25 Mar 2010, Richard Dingle wrote:

    In fact Germany are calling for the IMF to be part of any bail out for any of the PIIGS but Greece in particular. This in itself would cause great distress for Greece as the IMF are thorough if nothing else so there would be no wriggle room for their politicans to claim delivery while actually missing the austerity programme by a country mile.

    As I posted earlier the other PIIGS are also starting to squeak, Portugal being downgraded and Spain economy slipping backwards. Who in Europe and more specifically in the Eurozone has the capacity to step in and offer actual financial support to any of these countries. Germany, NO, France, NO and what about us. We are looking for them to lead us out of recession rather than the other way around.

    It is strange fact that the Euro would be a stronger currency if some if not all the PIIGS were forced out.

  • Comment number 85.

    This is an entirely pointless budget. It is simply a confirmation of the paralysis we are in until the election is over.

    Worryingly however, none of the parties seems to grasp the severity of the crisis we are in. They all seem content to fiddle whilst Rome burns.

    It is now abundatly clear that whoever wins the next election will be forced by external circumstances to take drastic action. All the talk of the economy recovering is nonsense. Brown has done is the equivalent of stuffing a bursting dam with paper mache. The problems of bad debt are dormant, but waiting to expload. The Bank of England has simply conspired to keep interest rates artificially low in the false hope that they can hold back the inevitable tide.

    They can't.

    Either taxes are raised and budgets significantly cut immediately after May 6th, which is unlikely, or the money markets will downgrade Britain's credit ratings, precipitating a run on the pound, forcing up interest rates.

    Either path will lead to the mass business bankruptcies, job loses, house repossions and bank insolvancies that are the inevitable consequences of years of economic mismanagement.

    Crisis averted? No simply delayed by a few weeks.

  • Comment number 86.

    When figures for national debt are quoted, please will SOMEONE start including the off-balance sheet Enron stylee PFI borrowings too? The payments on these borrowings alone are between £8bn and £10bn per year for the next 18 years or so, and those are only the comittments we have at the moment. they don't finish until into the 2030s. It's over £210bn of repayments in total. Public borrowings are NOT £167bn, they are far, far greater and no-one seems to take this into account. Transparency in government? I really don't think so. Highlight the real extent of borrowing in future analysis please.

  • Comment number 87.

    #83 FearandLoathing wrote:

    '..The sooner we transfer resources and investment over to the private sector..'

    The country is broke, all the public resources and investments made by the general public in the years up to 1980 were sold off (given away) to the private sector (big business, not SMEs). We no longer have anything left to sell off.

    The best you could hope for is to convince the hard working people of this country that they will have to work longer and harder to buy these things back.

  • Comment number 88.

    81

    I give the chances of that happening as 0%

    If you look closely at euroland it will implode...

    I appreciate that you don't want to look under that particular rock...yet that is the truth of it

    To call Portugal and Greek small is to overlook the domino and lemmings effect

    Don't write Sterling off yet

    Try and separate what you want to happen, from what is likely to happen

  • Comment number 89.

    We humans are so interesting to observe. Even my own children are so different to each other. One spends as soon as money reaches the purse, the other saves and is content with life.

    We are meant to benefit from observing each other, and understand the pros and cons of various personality traits and life choices, especially from the benefit of hindsight as a result of so much recorded history. And then as mature educated adults we are able to make wise and prudent decisions to guide us through life.

    And then there are politicians.

    As a nation we spend more than we earn.
    As a nation we import more than we export.
    As a nation we are aging, so a fewer number working need to support a larger number not working.

    Politicians know all these things, and know the absolutely inevitable result of it. Yet there is not a single political party that is prepared to outline a believable plan that makes you want to vote for them.

    How can anyone with a braincell still working, think that doubling our national debt in just a few years, putting a burden on a smaller and smaller working population, is anything other than completely reckless?

    Anyone would think we have just discovered North Sea oil, yet the opposite if true, the revenue from it which sustained so much previous prosperity is now withering away rapidly.

    I had to have a very serious conversation with my teenage children last night, explaining why they will need to seriously consider having to move and work abroad. So sad.

  • Comment number 90.

    #59

    It is also rather significant that the Euro sceptics single out the laggards like Portugal and Greece when reflecting on the UK position rather than comparing the UK to Germany or France.

    Is this a manifestation of a national inferiority complex.

    I think it is.

  • Comment number 91.

    "It's bad, but not as bad as we thought - and not nearly as bad as it would have been under the Conservatives." Strip away the distractions and the gimmicks, and that was basically what the chancellor wanted to tell us in his Budget statement today.

    =========

    Anyone with a reading comprehension age of about 8 can see that the words in inverted comments are supposed to represent the position put forward by the chancellor; they are not a statement of BBC opinion. People read into things what they want to believe.

  • Comment number 92.

    #84
    "It is strange fact that the Euro would be a stronger currency if some if not all the PIIGS were forced out"

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

    Heaven forbid. Might dent German exports :)

    At this juncture an IMF solution would be the best option. Some would argue that it will cause embarassement to the Euro project but why should it given that fiscal union is something in the (near) future. The IMF will sort out the fiscal elements of the countries concerned.

    " IMF are thorough if nothing "

    Yes, the Greeks are about to discover the full meaning of 'no pain no gain'. But at least they have a beautiful climate.

    Hope the IMF are budgeting for increased head count as we (UK) could be next.

  • Comment number 93.


    Worst deficits in the EU (2009)

    UK 13.0%
    Greece 12.5%
    Spain 11.25%
    Ireland 10.75%
    Italy 5.3%
    Germany 3.5%

    (Source: European Commission)

    UK top of the league, but at least Darling's growth forecasts are realistic :)

  • Comment number 94.

    Oops, I seemed to have stumbled onto the Conversative Home website....lots of angry tories around here.....squeeze them til the pips squeak..what, what..

  • Comment number 95.

    "Reada 23

    'Can't really argue with that, but surely no one believes his lot will do any better?'

    Except for anyone who recognises how well the economy was performing before Labour took over, and how much damage they've done over the last 13 years."


    I'm not sure which planet you've been living on....yes, the economy was performing well before Labour were voted in, and it continued to perform well until about two years ago! The Labour Party basically continued the same economic policies that the Conservatives had been operating for the previous 18 years - that was basically what "New Labour" was - Conservative style economics with a more progressive social policy.

    So basically yes, the economy screwed up because unregulated capitalism is like playing roulette - eventually your luck will run out and you lose. The Labour Party were certainly at fault for not moving away from that style of economics, but lets face it, if they had done so, nobody (you included) would have voted for them. In order to get back into power they copied the Conservatives.

    What is, however, even more puzzling is the way that people like you seem to think that by putting the Conservative party back in everything will return to normal!

    What are you expecting the Conservatives to do, exactly? Start acting like socialists and calling themselves "New Tory"?

    People just don't get it. It can only be down to pure media brainwashing, can't be anything else (well, it could be stupidity, but I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt......).

  • Comment number 96.

    #88
    "I give the chances of that happening as 0%"

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

    It is very much Labour policy, albeit a bit down the list.

    Like them (I dont like them much either) or hate them New Labour will be the party in government for the next 10 years as it will take the Conservatives that long to find another 'Maggie' (the current lot are so so lightweight).

    That is the choice, competent economic management (complete with warts) or inexperience and 'fairy cake' lightness.

  • Comment number 97.

    Oh dear - all the old mutliple posters from Tory Central Office are back - the BBC shopuld have stuck with old HYS site!!!

    In this world wide recession it is clear the Brown and Labour have managed the economy well. Remember for example that under the Tories ( and a self inmposed recession )that house reposessions peaked at 96000 a year approximately twice the present nubmer. Rememeber also that unemployment was around twice the present level. The above are of course the among the reasons that Osborne will not tell us the extent of his proposed cuts.

    Why are the Tories "spitting mad" because they realise that once again their lack of policies have left them exposed against what is after all an average buget statement

  • Comment number 98.

    Oops - meant to type 'inverted commas'...

  • Comment number 99.

    54. At 08:12am on 25 Mar 2010, nautonier wrote:
    29. At 8:45pm on 24 Mar 2010, John Day wrote:

    So where does "not nearly as bad as it would have been under the Conservatives" come from.
    Typical lefty bias BBC again

    --------------

    You really do hate honest reporting don't you? Try the Daily Mail if your looking for bias. By the way for some other facts look at the number of house reposessions under the last tory induced recession. Twice todays rate - or perhaps interest rates or unemployment or etc etc etc

  • Comment number 100.

    #87 I wasn't refering to the sale of public assets, I meant the transfer of human resource from the public sector and private sector investment from the extra wealth this would generate. In simple terms we need to stop paying people to knock nails in wood in the public sector and get them working in the competitive environment of the private sector, increasing effeciences, adding value and generating the real wealth needed to afford the public services we desire. At the minute we are expecting champagne public services from beer money, the party is over, time to sober up and get back to doing some real work. Gordon Brown the great alchemist economist has been caught wearing the emporers new clothes now that the tide's gone out.

 

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