This morning, in the light of yesterday's pre budget report, Alistair Darling was interviewed on Talksport radio by former footballer Alan Brazil and recently retired cricketer Ronnie Irani-the new Paxman and Dimbleby.
The presenters of the Alan Brazil Breakfast Show first asked the Chancellor how he felt about the 'heckling' he got as he was presenting the pbr to the Commons. Darling responded, "The House of Commons is at times a bit like going to a football match...what's more important is what do people outside make of [the pbr]."
He went on to justify the proactive nature of the report by stating that people and business do need to be supported by the Government otherwise "we're all going to pay a very heavy price for it." He took the downturns of the 80s and 90s as his reference point, saying "some people never went back to work" after recession was allowed to "take its course".
He explained the housing market crash led to less stamp duty being received by the Government and that this was a main reason for increased Government borrowing, along with the cycle of consumers spending less, unemployment increasing and tax revenues falling.
He conceded the debt will have to be paid back somehow, saying "you help people by putting a bit more money into the economy" but in the longer term Government borrowing has to be reduced and the level of debt has to decrease, hence the National Insurance payment increases that will take affect in three years' time.
When asked if cutting V.A.T. by 2.5% will make that much of a difference, Darling replied "you've got to look at all the measures together" to assess the impact they will have on the U.K. economy. In response to the question of whether retailers will pass the cut on, the Chancellor said, "I very much hope so" before pointing out it was in their best interests to do so as shops need as many customers as they can get.
On the issue of 45% income tax for those earning £150, 000 and above, Darling claimed people will think it fair that those with the highest incomes should make a greater contribution than those at the other end of the income scale.
The interview ended with Irani and Brazil asking the Chancellor which football team he supported. Darling professed to looking out for the results of the Edinburgh teams but said he was not as into football as some of his parliamentary colleagues. The ever optimistic Irani enquired if "Mr. Chancellor" was a cricket man instead, causing Darling to admit that, actually, he is "not very sporty".