Alistair Darling will go into next week’s pre-Budget report with one thing on
his mind – next year’s general election. What will he do to ensure that Labour’s
time in government does not come to an end in 2010?
He does this at a time when his popularity could not be lower. A straw poll
of Accountancy Age readers revealed they were split over who they wanted as
chancellor after the election. Half wanted Tory George Osborne, the other half
Lib Dem Vince Cable. Virtually no one was keen to see Darling remain in situ.
However, recent opinion polls have shown the gap between Labour and
They will encourage Darling but regardless of the election he must not lose
sight of the main issue – the recovery from recession. His decision there is
when to act on the huge budget deficit and on this he should be showing caution.
Timing is everything and acting too quickly to reduce the deficit could plunge
the country back into trouble. He will depict himself as the master of timing,
holding off for the precise moment in which he can begin clawing back. This has
the added benefit of not cutting spending or raising taxes ahead of the
election. This will probably the most eagerly observed Budget of Darling’s time
at No 11.
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A senior MP has questioned the impact of HMRC’s decision to undertake yet another radical overhaul of its internal structure
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