BBC – Nick Robinson’s Newslog: A truly historic budget: “Few budgets can claim to be truly historic. This one was. Not for the policies the Chancellor unveiled but for the grim statistics he had to produce.
They confirmed that Britain is in the sharpest recession, has the highest borrowing and is about to experience the biggest public spending squeeze since the war.
Alastair Darling did not try to hide this. It isn’t his style and, besides, it wouldn’t have been possible. Instead, he told a story of the British economy being hit by a global shock; of a government that had chosen to spend and borrow more to stimulate growth; and of a willingness to ask the richest to pay more for the cost of what had gone wrong.
Gordon Brown used to be accused of taxing by stealth. Alastair Darling announced that he was breaking Labour’s manifesto pledge not to raise the top rate of tax with a flourish – he is confident that the public is now ready to see the rich pay more.
The Treasury these days prefers stealth spending cuts. Nowhere did the Chancellor explain the consequences of what is to come – a period of public austerity which will dominate politics for years to come.
All this was overlaid with a large dollop of optimism that the economy would start to grow again around the turn of the year and, what’s more, grow mighty fast.
If the Treasury’s predictions are wrong – as many suspect they are – the next budget will replace this one in the history books.
Even if the optimism proves right, politicians will have to live with the fall out of this crisis for many years to come.”