Peter Hoskin

Bad news for the country, bad news for Labour

Bad news for the country, bad news for Labour
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Abandon hope all ye who enter here.  While we mostly knew what to expect from Darling's PBR, it's still surprising just how uninspiring, how thin and how insufficient it is in the flesh.  It's pretty much a bad news budget for anyone you could mention.  Bad news, of course, for the bankers who will be hit by the hazily outlined bonus tax.  Bad news for public sector workers, who are already smarting at the frozen pay rise they'll have to accept in a few years time.  Bad news for anyone who cares about the state of the public finances, which look just as grim, if not worse, as they did back in April, with no significant plan for recovery.  Bad news for almost every employer and employee, who will be hit with that half-pence increase in national insurance contributions - probably the document's most politically toxic measure.  And bad news for a country which might have expected the economy to be put before politics.  It wasn't.

All in all, though, this PBR is terrible news for Labour.  Yes, the dividing lines have been set – but all too sketchily and unconvincingly, and you suspect many voters will be on the opposite side of them. Time, and the fast approaching general election, will tell.