I'm not going to be around for much of the rest of the day to comment on PMQs or the Pre Budget Report as I am just about to leave the office to attend a book sales conference in Berkshire. Hell and damnation.
However, before I go, let me offer a few thoughts on what Alistair Darling is likely to serve up for us later. I wish I could say that I believe he will put the economic interest of the country first. But I can't. I wish I could say that I believe he will put the national interest first, but I can't. This Pre Budget Report will be deeply political and have more than half an eye on the coming general election. And we should all ask: is this the Chancellor's Pre Budget Report or the Prime Minister's?
The thrust of the Chancellor's proposals, it seems from the pre-briefing, is to make a headline of a tax on bankers' bonuses. As if that is the major problem facing the nation. It isn't. Yes, I too find it galling that many of them seem intent on taking huge bonuses when they are part of failing, partially state-owned, institutions. if Darling is going to do anything about this he shouldn't be creating new windfall taxes, he should be using the government's controlling stake in RBS and Lloyds TSB to insist that the bonuses don't go ahead. He may make headlines and even receive public support - and even possibly the support of the Opposition - but it's just a figleaf to mask the impending debt crisis which this country faces.
If Darling was taking seriously the need to cut government borrowing and in turn public spending, he would be instituting massive cuts immediately, rather than wait until 2011, coincidentally after an election has taken place. He would also not be ruling out spending cuts in education, health and the police. The public know that drastic action has got to be taken, and taken now. They see countless examples of government programmes which could easily be cut - some with less pain than others. And yet the government still sends out the message that it can be done without any real heartache. It can't.
They use the argument that is you turn off the spending tap now, you risk the recovery. Er, what recovery? We are still mired in recession. The fiscal stimulus hasn't worked. I see no sign of growth in the new year either. The VAT rise will depress things and until confidence returns, entrepreneurs will not invest.
The international money markets will be watching this PBR in a hawk like fashion. They will be looking for signs that the government isn't serious. And if they spot any such signs we will be a step further to losing our AAA credit status. And if that happens, the cost of borrowing goes up and its availability diminishes. And so we get into a deep spiral of having to cut spending even firther to service increased levels of interest payments. That is the doomsday scenario, but if Alistair Darling isn't careful, it's where we are heading. And I take no pleasure in saying that whasoever.