13.22 ABSOLUTELY NO MENTION OF NORTHERN ROCK!!!!!!!
13.21: Raising winter fuel benefit from £200 to £250 for pensioners.
13.21: Gift Aid will continue at the current rate of 22% for the next three years.
13.20: Still no mention of Northern Rock.
13.18: So no detail on how much VED will rise by! Incredible. Just an aspiration. Or will it be hidden away in the Red Book?
13.17: Road Tax. Here we go. [tightens belt]. From 2009 VED will be rebanded to encourage people to use less polluting cars. People will have to pay more in the first year. Why only the first year?
13.16: Aviation must meet its environmental costs. Cars account for 22% of total emissions.
13.13: Anti plastic bag legislation in 2009. Money raised to go to environmental charities.
13.11: Climate Change - here's the sting...
13.09: No mention yet of Northern Rock.
13.06: So let's get this straight. My road tax is going to shoot up. I've got to pay more for petrol. I've got to pay £25 a day congestion charge, £2000 extra showroom tax (maybe) and also road tolls. Glad we've got that clear.
13.06: Inviting tenders for road pricing technology. Tories did that in 1995!
13.05: A startling admission that "we do need more capacity on our roads".
13.01: Confirms non dom tax from April. No more changes in this Parliament or the next.
13:00: Corporation Tax - lowest in G7. Has fallen from 38% to 28%. No more changes. More help for small businesses on top of previous announcements in January. Wants to help them get finance more easily.
12.55: Is anyone still awake? Judging from the noise in the House of Commons, very few MPs are.
12.52: He says he wants to help children from 'hard working families'. Isn't it the children from non hard working families who are most likely to need help?
12.51: Remember when budgets used to be about the nation's finances? This is just one long party political broadcast. Anyone would think there was an election in the offing.
12.46: Says public spending rising slower than in last ten years. Grew by 3.6% 1997-2007. Will go up by 2.2% in future.
12.44: I'm bored now. Can I have a tax cut please?
12.42: 2008 borrowing is £36 billion, £1.4 billion lower than forecast. 2009 will go up to £43 billion. Says this is lower than in Tory years.
12.41: Says borrowing is lower than it was in 1997. Funny way of calculating it, then. Says public finances are strong. Set to signal increased borrowing.
12.39: Inflation target to remain 2%. That will be the first pledge to be broken then. Most people who live in the real world know that it's far higher than that now.
12.36: All countries have lowered their growth forecasts. 2008 growth forecast to be 1.75-2.25% for 2008. Faster than Japan and the US, says Darling.
12.34: Don't blame it on the sunshine, don't blame it on the moonlight, don't blame it on the good times, blame it on the world econonmy.
12.33: I can see 'stability' replacing prudence as a watchword. Stability, fairness, blah blah. Building a fairer society, more opportunity. Come on, cut the blah, get on with telling me how you're going to make my pips squeak!
12.23: Robert Peston predicts huge rise in borrowing and says the main question will be how much taxes rise by and when. He suspects there may be a delay in implementation.
12.20: PMQs was a damp squib with David Cameron asking about Dafur and then whipping on the Human Embryo & Fertilisation Bill. He scored a hit on that, I thought. Nick Clegg was a bit shouty on party funding, with Gordon Brown seeming to feel sorry for him by not going for the 'Michael Brown' jugular.
I'll be trying to do a Live Blog of Alistair Darling's budget speech from 12.30pm. I cannot promise that it won't run into a live rant...
Oh, and for an alternative budget view, click onto the BBC Politics Page to see what Jade Goody and Trisha Goddard think of what should be in the budget. This is naturally far more important than what Vince Cable, Michael Fallon or John McFall think. The only other video is on that page is of John Culshaw doing a comedy skit of Alistair Darling. And this is the country's premier public service broadcaster on budget day. YeGods. Yes, I am in rant mode...