Cover of MoneyWeek magazine issue no 479

Stocking up

26 March 2010 / Issue 479

The best commodities to buy now...


  • Five bombed-out retail shares to snap up
  • The man who turned cricket upside down
  • Don't blame the bust on Germany


Darling’s dishonest budget

I’ve listened to a lot of Budgets over the last ten years. None have irritated me as much as this week’s.

There were plenty of minor irritations in there. The ludicrous suggestion that unemployment isn’t that big a problem. The insistence on describing the recession as global and blaming it almost entirely on America and big banks (“a storm which began in America”). The lack of any detail about how the so-called “efficiency savings” so often promised might ever come about. The removal of stamp duty up to £250,000 for first-time property buyers (the main problem with stamp duty is the constraints it puts on labour mobility so removing it only for first time-buyers is pointless).

The endless use of the word ‘unprecedented’ as a policy defence. And, of course, the glossing over of the fact that whatever the arguments for cutting or not cutting spending at this stage in the economic cycle may be, cuts are already underway and most of the emergency stimulus measures put in place in 2008 are long gone. As the BBC’s Stephanie Flanders constantly points out, the impact of returning VAT to 17.5% is far greater than that of any of Darling’s minor spending announcements.

But for me the biggest irritation of all was the way Darling treated his change to his forecast for the budget deficit this year.

• Read the full editor’s letter here:
Darling’s dishonest budget