THE Conservatives are being as good as their word. At the General Election they undertook, if elected, to hold an emergency budget within 50 days and today George Osborne will better that promise by presenting his first Budget in slightly less than that time. (The Liberal Democrats opposed Conservative policy at the election but now are, somehow, all in favour.) After Mr Osborne speaks today the deed will have been done -- once started, severe cuts in government expenditure must be carried through.

The Conservatives believe that such immediate cuts are essential to effectively reducing the national deficit. Once embarked on this path there will be no turning back. It is important, therefore, to put on record that not everyone agrees that this policy is right. The danger in it is that the cuts will lead to such a surge in unemployment that any green shoots of recovery of growth in the economy will be trampled under and a second recession could follow. Last Friday US President Obama wrote to members of the G20 meeting later this week to underline the need to “provide the policy support necessary to keep economic growth strong.” Many experts think that what Mr Osborne is doing is the opposite and that the really big cuts should not begin until next spring by which time the economy should be stronger - this was Labour's policy. Only time will tell but it is worth keeping in mind that we are at a dangerous crossroads today.