We Face the Worst Crisis for 60 Years Admits Darling; Alistair Darling: 'The Next 12 Months Will Be Critical for Labour'

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Lea

ALISTAIR Darling gave an astonishingly bleak assessment of the economic crisis facing Britain last night.

The Chancellor warned that it will be 'more profound and long lasting' than anyone expected.

And in an admission of Labour's failure to manage the downturn, he conceded that voters had been left 'p***** off '.

The Chancellor said the country was on the brink of 'arguably the worst' financial conditions for 60 years.

His grave diagnosis comes in the same week as a warning from a Bank of England policymaker that two million people could be unemployed by Christmas. It will cause significant damage to Gordon Brown's hopes of staging a political fightback with a series of measures designed to help families meet soaring mortgage, food and fuel costs. The remarks are also likely to add to the unease within the

Cabinet that the Prime Minister has been doomed by the downturn and will find it impossible to regain support in the country.

Mr Darling admits he had no idea how serious the credit crunch would become.

'I think it's going to be more profound and long-lasting than people thought,' he says in an interview with the Guardian.

He goes on: 'We've got our work cut out. This coming 12 months will be the most difficult 12 months the Labour Party has had in a generation, quite frankly.

'We've got to rediscover that zeal which won three elections, and that is a huge problem for us at the moment. People are p***** off with us.

'We really have to make our minds up - are we ready to try and persuade this country to support us for another term? Because the next 12 months are critical. It's still there to play for.' Mr Darling has used similar language before, in an interview several weeks ago, but the timing of this latest intervention is significant.

Mr Brown hopes to return to the political fray next week to unveil an economic rescue package designed to show voters he is trying to ease the burden of rising bills. …