Outright criticism of the prime minister is not really Alistair Darling’s style. He prefers the raised eyebrow, the flat understatement. But you don’t have to be a Kremlinologist to get the message in this exchange from today’s Andrew Marr Show: It’s pretty loud and clear.
And yet this is a strange kind of budget because it’s weeks ahead of a General Election which is going to be a very, very tough fight. Surely the Prime Minister and No. 10 are telling you all the time give us some help, give us some help in the battleground constituencies, something in that budget?
Look people are not daft. They know perfectly well that we’ve got to make sure that not only do we secure the recovery. We’ve got to get our borrowing down. And, frankly, any politician who planted a Christmas tree on the table and said, “There you are”, people would just roll their eyes and say, “Oh well, you know you’ve clearly lost touch.” What I will present to Parliament this week will be a sensible budget.