Martin Bright

Reserving Judgement

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It is so very tempting to storm in after a Budget and make sweeping assessments. Journalists are paid to do just that but they risk being blinded by ideology or government briefings.

Fraser has already decided that this was the worst Budget ever. And the front pages suggest that editors are none too happy with Alistair Darling's "Budget for Jobs". I think it's probably too early to say. Remember,most people missed the significance of the removal of the 10 pence tax rate two years ago.

This is the first time in four years that I haven't had to rush into print over the Budget and that is something of a relief. It is also  the first in which I have been seeking money for a project I support. The fact that the New Deal of the Mind coaltion has argued for a Budget for Jobs means that I'm in no position to be an objective judge.

I would say, however, that this was a sober and unfussy performance from Darling. I prayed for no rabbits from hats and there were no fluffy animals in sight. The large settlement for James Purnell at Work and Pensions suggests that the Chancellor recognises the seriousness of the situation. Projected jobless figures would suggest it would be unhinged if he didn't.

As ever, the detail will be teased out over the next week or so. But the real question is what Purnell will do with the money and whether it will make a difference. Because I suspect the next election will be fought over jobs.  Unemployment and the fear of it has driven people away from the Labour Party before and it will do it again.