There was a time when allowing details of the Budget to leak in advance meant the end of a Chancellor’s career.
Those days are long gone, and much of what Mr Darling will say today has been trailed in some detail. But one thing has been missing, and that’s news of a scrappage scheme to support the automotive sector.
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has made it clear that he is in favour, but the Treasury has been reluctant to comply with his proposal.
It seems remarkable, however, that agreement had not been reached last night.
Alistair Darling may still have a surprise up his sleeve and announce today that a scrappage system is to be introduced, even if the details have yet to be ironed out.
Carmakers have been calling for greater support from the Government for the best part of a year, and they have indeed benefitted from assistance including help accessing loans from the European Investment Bank.
There have also been measures to support firms in the supply chain including access to loans for small and medium-sized employers.
But this does not end the need for measures to boost demand for new cars.
Today’s Budget is likely to be dominated by more doom and gloom as we learn that he economy is set to shrink more rapidly than previously predicted, while Britain’s debts will be even higher than planned.
It appears that the Government has accepted the reality that it cannot borrow its way out of recession. There is no way to keep the country out of debt at the moment, but making those deficits even higher than required will only mean that future generations face more misery when paying them back.