Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Doubtless there will be plenty of grumbles about today's pre-budget report in the days ahead. Some will say that the cuts should be deeper - though a 0.8% increase a year for two years is pretty deep, especially once the welfare budget is considered - while there will be complaints about the national insurance rise. But the real problem for the Tories is that the more they rant, the less they tell us about what they would really do instead. I've just been watching shadow chief secretary Philip Hammond on Sky News who had nothing but rhetoric to contribute to the debate. Indeed, what impressed most about the PBR speech was the unflashy authority of Alastair Darling, whose stature has grown greatly in the financial crisis, which compared starkly what the shrill response of George Osborne, who has experienced a big dip in his reputation by calling it wrong last year. The idea that Osborne could be allowed to let his economic ignorance loose on the economy in six months time is something that really ought to worry the markets.