Thursday, March 13, 2008

Nationals on the budget

The budget dominates the headlines today in the nationals.

The Times calls it the hangover Budget

Drinkers and drivers were hit in the pocket yesterday as Alistair Darling used them and a borrowing surge to try to steer Britain away from recession and through global financial storms.

The hesitant debutante says the Guardian

In what one City commentator called a Mother Hubbard package, Darling promised economic stability but offered little hope for Labour MPs that they could go into an election in either 2009 or 2010 with a credible offer of tax cuts, or extra public spending.

The Mail calls him the man with Rose tinted glasses

Alistair Darling took a major gamble yesterday on Britain sailing through a global crisis.
In his first Budget, the Chancellor presented a rose-tinted picture of the economy to disbelieving MPs.He foresaw steady long-term growth, despite City warnings

For the Telegraph,the Chancellor

Declares war on family cars

Motorists have been hit by punitive rises in taxes as Alistair Darling targeted the drivers of family cars with a new 'showroom tax'.The Chancellor announced plans that will mean owners of estate cars and people carriers could pay hundreds of pounds a year more to drive on the roads.

Don't drink and drive says the front page of the Sun

Killjoy Chancellor Alistair Darling clobbered drinkers with a SIX PER CENT tax hike on booze.
And he hammered motorists driving typical family saloons with new road tax bands, aimed at cutting carbon emissions.

The Independent on its front page describes

If you want to understand what is happening don't listen to the words; look instead at the numbers. The words were the same as in the previous 10 Budgets, but the person saying those words was different. It was almost as though the new Chancellor was reading out a speech written by his predecessor. Indeed I suspect in large measure that is what happened.

The Express picks up on a comment made in the Commons


Tory leader David Cameron accused them of imposing the heaviest tax burden in our history.
With a laugh and a shrug, Children’s Minister Ed Balls sniggeringly retorted: “So what?”
Mr Balls then grinned and widened his eyes into a wild stare as the Tory leader rounded on him in disgust, noting for all to hear: “So what, says the Minister for Children.”

Inside in the editorial columns,the Mirror sticks up for Mr Darling,Playing safe and sound saying that

he isn't a politician to take risks when the economy's heading for a rough patch.

if Britain emerges next year or the year after relatively unscathed, his Budget will have proved to be a triumph

The Independent describes it as a lacklustre budget in the shadow of Mr Brown,noting that

There were times yesterday when it was hard to believe that there had been a change of Chancellor, so reminiscent of his predecessor's register and cadences was the Budget speech of Alistair Darling.

Dangerously Dull says the Guardian

Neither elegant nor adventurous, it bored MPs and will bore voters, too, who may notice the rising price of drink, but not the flurry of incremental schemes and reviews that accompanied it, nor the big increase in spending on child poverty. The speech was essentially a compendium of Gordon Brown's less interesting phrases - made even less fun by Mr Darling's delivery. Stability (the new prudence) is an estimable ambition, but after Northern Rock and with an economic outlook bleaker than a Beckett play, a commanding performance was called for and Mr Darling did not deliver.

The Times says

it proved to be a sanguine attempt to cope with a dramatic change in the economic climate

Still, against the backdrop of a precarious world financial system, a slowing British economy and an overstretched public purse, the modesty of Mr Darling's first Budget provides a welcome dose of dullness for the British economy in these all too interesting times.

The Sun pulls no punches

where have we heard that one before?
Darling trotted out the same line yesterday that we have been hearing in Labour Budgets for 11 long years

After 11 years, shouldn’t Labour be delivering rather than promising?

The Telegraph refers to Labour's decade of waste

the sun seemed to be peeping out from behind this thunder cloud as he delivered a distinctly sanguine assessment of the British economy. We hope, but doubt, he is correct
. and describes a

disappointing package of pettifogging measures that push money around the system without striking out in any clear direction.

And finally the Guardian reminds us of another lost opportunity

For a moment it seemed as if the chancellor had grasped the Stern review's conclusion: that the cheapest option is to face up to the threat and address it at once. Sadly, Mr Darling did not keep pulses racing. He followed his call for immediate action with a lumbering reminder about the worthwhile review of a far-off carbon target - set for 2050.Any serious hope that the budget might give a lead on the environment died the moment Mr Darling postponed a small rise in fuel duty, which simply caught up with inflation

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