Optimistic about the future
Alistair Darling is clearly determined to use his Budget speech to tell the country a story about why the economy is in the mess it's in and about the help that the government has already given. That's why he took nine minutes at the top of his speech before revealing any forecasts or making any policy announcements.
He is also determined to look optimistic about the future - predicting a return to growth "towards the end of the year". If he's right and the first quarter of resumed economic growth comes at the beginning of 2010, the figure would be unveiled just days before a general election.
UPDATE, 13:06: The new 50% top tax rate for those earning over £150,000 is designed to put the Tories on the spot - do they back it or pledge to reverse it? Since it will be introduced before the next election, they will have to say.
If they attempt to swerve this political trap they will face criticism from some in their own party and in the Tory press who will demand that they protect "our people".