ALISTAIR Darling's Pre-Budget Report needed to be a real economic plan to get Britain out of recession and tackle the enormous financial deficit.

Instead it was more like a party political broadcast which aimed to save Labour MPs next year by putting off the hard economic decisions until after the General Election.

Britain is almost 5% poorer today than it was a year ago. We have been in a deep and long recession, and unemployment is still rising.

So Alistair Darling is right about one thing - the immediate priority is to get the economy back on its feet and we should not risk the recovery by cutting budgets too quickly.

But that does not hide the fact that we are living way beyond our means. The British Government is borrowing an extra £500m every single day.

That can be sustained for a short period but not for long.

So the Pre-Budget Report needed to have a really credible five-year schedule for cutting the massive deficit. Instead we got a five-month political plan. It had a few small-scale proposals and even more additional spending commitments.

It will be a difficult task to maintain decent public services whilst still getting the deficit under control by 2014.

Alistair Darling gave the impression that he does not expect to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer who has to perform that task.