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Wednesday, 12 March, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 12 Mar 08, 05:20 PM

Credibility Crunch
Alistair DarlingMuch has been made of the warning that Alistair Darling was not going to incite a quickening of the pulse with today's budget. The chancellor was probably delighted. The more we called him “grey”, “dull” and “flat”, the easier his job became - like a football manager downplaying his team's chances before a cup final.

In the end, he didn’t need to blind us with brilliance. He just sought to reassure us that things weren't about to go really badly wrong. Although he downgraded economic growth forecasts, they still seem pretty optimistic. Although he upped borrowing to £43bn - sailing perilously close to his own rules on debt - he still seemed to tell us all would shortly be well in the economy.

How so? Can he confidently predict the country won't see a recession? Or is he just shutting his eyes and hoping the problem will go away? David Cameron has accused the government of a 'credibility crunch'.

Tonight, after we've “toothcombed” the red book to see what all the detail really amounts to, we'll be talking to the three main parties to ask if the chancellor has emerged today with his credibility in tact, or if this budget is merely storing up trouble for a later date.

More on the budget from BBC News.

Ten Days to War
Stephen ReaOur film tonight revisits the argument over post-war planning in Iraq. Clare Short, the International Development Secretary of the time, is one of the characters in the film. She will then appear in the studio alongside Major General Tim Cross - played by Stephen Rea in the drama - whose task was to re-build Iraq after the war. We'll be asking where the planning went wrong.

Watch the first two episodes and read more about the series on the website.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 05:44 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Bob Goodall wrote:

Dear Newsnight

Looking at the above all I can say is that Truth and honesty might make a huge difference to Government and have huge benefits for the people of this country and the World?

ie the 'Truth' dividend might be enormous,

a light quake encompassing the World,

Anyone want to try it?

best wishes


Money for health so that we are well enough to work. Money for schooling so that we are schooled enough for work. Money for kids in poverty because they don’t make good workers. Money for mothers so that they can go to work.
Where is the money – or better still – the concern, to tackle “dysfunctional Britain”; self-medicating itself with a range of compounds and nihilistic pursuits to numb minds from our mad and maddening Britishness?
Why can we not have a budget that gives Mothers back to children? Takes childhood back from advertisers and brewers? Promotes the development of whole people rather than units of work? And teaches me to write proper sentences?

  • 3.
  • At 06:55 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Nick Thornsby wrote:

Is Vince Cable's dressing room being dusted down? Although I don't suppose it has had much chance to get dusty, he's on more than the NN correspondents! Not that it's a bad thing!

Stephanie Flander's last budget on NN before she leaves us for the bright lights and busy phone lines of the editorial offices (I assume she will have one). Must be emotional for you all!

  • 4.
  • At 07:22 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Bob Goodall wrote:

Dear Newsnight

Could I suggest people look at the Nasa website that shows what humanity can do with a positive can do attitude, truly awesome and inspiring,

Instead of boot camps etc what about a visit to a centre of excellence and endeavour and great courage like Nasa?

Lets all look upwards (me included) and aim very very high and try to get away from this self limiting inward thinking that seems to be around too much?

best wishes

The latest budget as usual has misjudged the poverty levels suffered by a vast majority of the electorate. I personaly have a disposable income of £11,000 pa and am expected to exist in the same world as high earners. ie Fuel costs, petrol, food, council tax etc.etc. What possible benefit can there be for the government by putting 4p on a packet of cigarettes when almost everyone buys them abroad? Why should I fund an increase in family allowance. If people want children, they pay for them. Why not means test it as many families dont need it. I think I speak for the majority of the "great unwashed mob" in saying we've had enough. We are taxed out of all proportion and to say that the general mood of us all is at an all time low is an understatement. Its the same old story-Cigarettes,beer,wine,fuel. I have thought long and hard about why I vote and my conclusions are that I never will again. Its pointless whoever is in power any why should I vote for currupt MP's (expenses), governments that lie (referendum on E.U.) etc. etc.


Britain, 5th in the world league table for profitable DOING, comes nowhere when measured by the poverty of its BEING. The true poverty of children, is only partly the damp, crowded home and the lack of material possessions. This poverty can, if fortunate, be left behind in later life. But poverty of spirit: habituation to nihilistic pursuits, chaotic parenting, poor self-esteem and absent work-ethic, trap a child for life – life as a big child. Our government, having presided over this disgrace, compounds it by shipping-in “high quality menials” who have escaped a damaging British childhood. The fact that posturing politicians have the gall to preside over such violation of the people that they purport to represent and to protect, highlights their bankruptcy. According to Darling, and the Labour Greek chorus, we are headed for an even more glorious future. I can only assume that, in their minds, that means a guaranteed fat pension, para-military police, and a gated community.

  • 7.
  • At 12:20 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Bill Bradbury wrote:

A grey budget by a grey Chancellor. Make-believe economic forcasts and the poor made to pay for the rich by hitting the "usual Suspects" of cigs. drink and transport.

Colin's view is echoed by the majority of the electorate and why fewer and fewer turn out at elections.

Unfortunately, as I have written before, Carbon emissions is the "new religion" of this Century. It has been a godsend, plus the nanny state, to tax us all to hell.
Global warming, or any other disasters that has hit this planet, is only one of a cycle that has periodically altered the flora and fauna. Mankind, like the dinosaurs will eventually be wiped out by some pandemic, and a new order will emerge. A walk around the Pit-Rivers Museum in Oxford will confirm this view.

As for the budget, no surprises and the rich get rich and poor get poorer, my 35 year old son on less than £10,000 a year being one.

This budget will not affect ONE MP financially who the poor continue to subsidise. At least we all now know the date of the next election 2010. Unfortunately, if you think the Tories will be any better, think again.

  • 8.
  • At 12:59 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • David Mackenzie wrote:

Ten Days to War
Emily is very decorative, very bright and pretty incisive, but why put her in a situation where she has no time to follow up the thread of the developing interview? The discussion with Claire Short was all very well, but there were so many openings where really thorough probing - which might have produced some interesting insights into the way government policy at the time was being (or not being) developed - were left hanging in the air. I know time is a problem, but if there is not sufficient time thoroughly to probe major issues of this kind, better not to start. I was left with a feeling of annoyance that, as usual, interviewees got away with failing adequately to respond to the questioning.

  • 9.
  • At 04:01 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Chris Hills wrote:

I felt the opposite way to #8. I was annoyed because Emily Maitlis did not listen to Clare Short and constantly interrupted her - I wanted Ms Short to be allowed to finish what she wanted to say. But I agree that more time should have been allowed for this interview.

  • 10.
  • At 02:48 PM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • James Broadhurst wrote:

On the one night (budget night) that I might liked to have had Paxman, we got Emily Maitlis. Persistent badgering of Cable to get him to admit the liberals were predicting a recession which he was never going to do and Claire Short telling her she wasn't listening, capped a very poor peformance by Maitlis.

  • 11.
  • At 06:06 PM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • John wrote:

10 days to war is a nice idea, but is not done justice by time constraints, plus it eats away at current news stories.

Perhaps a special programme can be made to be shown one evening over 90 minutes?

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