Wednesday, 12 March, 2008
- 12 Mar 08, 05:20 PM
Much 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
Our 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.