Budget may not be bold enough to save Brown
The budget unveiled by British premier Gordon Brown's government
Wednesday may have effectively fired the starter's gun on an election
campaign but some already doubt it is radical enough to save his skin.
Figures released hours before the budget which showed unemployment at
a 12-year high of 2.1 million underlined the scale of the task facing
Brown and his Labour Party as they lay the groundwork for elections
expected next year.
The budget was seen as central to Brown convincing voters he is the
man to steer Britain out of choppy waters, even though opponents say it
was his decade as finance minister under Tony Blair which landed it
there in the first place. "The general election campaign starts in
earnest today," The Times newspaper wrote in an editorial Wednesday.
"(Its) political sleight-of-hand will set the terms for the electoral
contest that must take place before May 2010."
Initial signs were that the budget, delivered before a packed House
of Commons by Brown's low-key finance minister Alistair Darling, may not
contain enough eye-catching, practical measures to reverse Brown's
The main problem was a lack of money because of shrinking tax
revenues and the high cost - an estimated 3.5 percent of GDP - of
propping up British banks brought close to collapse by the credit