Interesting day today. Darling will obviously see this as an opportunity to throw himself and his boss a lifeline and five more years. But I will be interested to see what he does and how he does it. Some of the bigger, headline facts ahead of the budget will play. For example, we currently have lower unemployment than anyone expected. We have had stronger growth than anyone expected, although this is incredibly precarious. Retail and manufacturing are both ahead of the curve. Public sector borrowing â expected even by Darling to be Â£178bn is lower at Â£170bn. If you were to look at those figures as just a snapshot and ignored all the massive and obvious mistakes that Labour have made with the economy, it would look quite rosy. Some mooted ideas look positively stupid. One of the underlying reasons for the big problems we have just been through, the property bubble, was that house prices were growing too quickly. So to remove stamp duty for first time buyers up to Â£250k to give a boost to the market is populist and dangerous. We donât need more people owning their own homes and getting back into this mess again. Tax cuts at the moment would be absolutely stupid as well, including removing any already planned hikes in fuel duty etc. Perhaps a reduction in other sales taxes (VAT and IPT) might help a little bit. Massively swinging an axe through government spending at this point in the recovery would also be stupid. It would guarantee a return to the recession. But this time with massive unemployment. I am not saying that the government isnât too big and paying too many people, but we need to reduce its size slowly over a couple of years. Beyond that, I donât see what else there is left for him to actually play with. He canât reduce corp taxes because we are desperate. He wonât dare reduce pensions or income support. He has already set out his stall in respect of personal taxes. What I will be looking for is a controlled, measured reduction of the size of government. Benefit reform. Increased support for green technologies. No big grandstand tax giveaways or tax penalties bullying specific sectors. I am not sure that he will be able to control himself though. I would also like to see him announce the end of PFI, or at least admit it is government debt. But I should bloody well coco. What will others be expecting / looking for?