The growth forecasts in Alistair Darling's Budget today could prove too optimistic, according to independent research carried out for MPs. The gap means that Labour could fail to achieve its goal to halve the huge deficit in the public finances in four years without raising taxes or making deeper spending cuts than it plans.
In his eve-of-election Budget, the Chancellor is expected to confirm his previous forecast that the economy will grow by 2 per cent in the financial year starting next month.
And so, the expectations of others are nowadays sufficient provocation for condemnation. I might thus expect the Chancellor to double the duty on beer and excoriate him for his wanton negligence of the pleasures of the working man. But building castles in the air rarely provides a secure foundation for the public house of the future. Let us wait and see.