Even before we’ve trawled through the small print on pensions and tax changes, the pre-Budget report has lived up to the billing. Scorched earth, poison pill, you can choose your metaphor but the key point is that this was a political statement designed to protect Labour’s sectional interests, boost its core vote and stuff the Tories at every turn.
The measures likewise: for example, a whacking great increase in the value of the state pension (2.5pc when inflation is negative?!), ditto other benefits, represents a gratuitous increase in the cost of entitlements, in the knowledge that the Conservatives need to review them downwards. Reckless, unaffordable, yet how can the Tories reasonably be expected to reverse that one?
Darling is a clever lad - he'll go far.