Far be it from me to even contemplate interfering in the Chancellor of the Exchequer (CHX)'s perogative to determine the budgetary position just weeks ahead of the next election.
But I feel free to report my own thoughts on this issue in the context of recent discussions about the content of the 2010 Labour Party Election Manifesto.
There has been no debate about UK fiscal policy in Labour's National Policy Forum during the life of the current Parliament. Under the distinguished and politically adroit chairmanship of 'Privatise the Postmen' Pat McFadden MP, the National Policy Forum was forbidden from raising such matters. No such constraints were imposed at the meeting last Thursday between Ed Miliband, election manifesto coordinator, and constituency representatives from Labour's National Executive Committee and National Policy Forum.
There were three out of six NEC constituency section representatives present - all from the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance slate. We all majored on the need for Labour to return to progressive taxation in its 2010 manifesto. This is a critical means of delivering 'A Future Fair for All'.
The setting for that future is as much the budget, as the Manifesto. There is probably neither the time or opportunity for major tax reform in the 2010 budget. But there is scope for greater clarity about the direction of travel. Income tax policy and living incomes (benefits, wages and pensions) must be the instruments of choice for tackling poverty, and delivering a fair future for all. Those that can afford to pay should be encouraged to do so.
As for the deficit, the electorate is already wising up to the punative consequences of Conservative economic policy on the vast majority of people whether in work, on benefits or retired (unless extremely well-heeled). What Labour has yet to do is transform the popular perception of public debt into 'good' (not 'bad' as argued by the Conservative, Liberal Democrats and the right-wing (read most of) the media.)
There are areas of public investment that require further help. The most important in the view of many of my Labour Party colleagues at last week's meeting is council housing for rent. There is still too much slack in the construction sector. The private sector's failure to deliver affordable housing in sufficient quantity and quality is blighting hundreds of thousands of people's lives.
My worry is that Labour's budget deficit reduction programme is cast in terms of a Parliament and not as under former CHX, gordon Brown, the expected economic cycle. We don't want a repeat of 1970 when Roy Jenkins' fiscally neutral budget did not help Harold Wilson secure a third election victory. 40 years on the markets and the banks have been rumbled.
The CHX's challenge is how to escape Treasury orthodoxy and deliver a Darling budget for May.