Personally I thought Darling's budget was unsurprising. Some things went up, shock. Budget consistent with the "Don't cut now, cut later" ethos that is Labour's election pose which simultaneously allows them to paint their pending cuts as a good thing because they are simply further away than the cuts of the other parties.
BBC Economics Editor Stephanie Flanders summed up Mr Darling's message as "it's bad, but not as bad as we thought - and not nearly as bad as it would have been under the Conservatives".
The Tory response was equally predictable. They said that Labour nicks ideas off them, which it does. Cameron also said "We need a credible plan to cut the deficit. We need an unleashing of enterprise across the nation. We need a plan to boost employment through radical welfare and school reform." I'm fairly sure this makes no sense, how does laying off civil servants "unleash" enterprise?
Nick Clegg, who apparently leads a party called the "Liberal Democrats" responded in similarly uninspiring fashion. After trying to win a bet by cramming as many cliches as possible into a single paragraph Clegg berated the government's refusal to slash spending by saying that "Labour should stop trying to kid people about this recession. They got us into it. Only by being honest about how we got into this mess will we ever be able to get out."
There were better responses from Ann Pettifor, LEAP and the Greens, who displayed an altogether different kind of realism - one that understands that poverty is not a positive economic tool and that we should be bolstering the economy not undermining it.
Caroline Lucas, Green Party leader, said that "Unlike the other parties, we will argue that increases in taxation for the better-off are required. We will raise taxes fairly and explain them honestly. Labour's plans depend upon wishful thinking about how quickly the economy and tax revenues will recover. They are unwilling to tell you about the cuts and tax increases coming later.
"In contrast, the Green Party will be open about what we would cut, what we would defend, and about the fact that we need to raise taxation from 36% of GDP in 2009-10 to around 45% in 2013. This would halve the gap between government expenditure and revenues by 2013-14 (as the Labour government proposes) and progressively close the gap thereafter."It's interesting that when the government proposes cuts they never consider waste like ID cards, or Trident they always cut backs in the public sector.