The budget has been widely called the end of New Labour – and it’s hard to argue with it. It looks as if the UK will soon be getting a more Conservative government and, whoever leads it, it will certainly face some extremely serious problems. These will be caused in large part by the need to repay the borrowing the government is now committed to. This borrowing is being undertaken to help prop up the financial businesses based in the city of London – and to alleviate the effects of its collapse on the rest of the economy and its people.
The caricature of the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alastair Darling is for the Budget supplement in The Independent. His performance in delivering the bad news was, as usual, masterly. He excels at delivering a continuous, low modulation, non-dramatic monotone (which sends people to sleep), and which is a brilliant way of concealing terribly important things.
One of the things he didn’t mention very much in his speech yesterday were the banks and financial institutions – this was a revealing leave. He really didn’t want to talk about how badly in hock to them the country now is.
His skill in public performance has seen Mr Darling through a series of tricky cabinet roles, however, yesterday, the scale of the bad news he had to deliver was impossible to hide.