The budget is less easy to quantify than previous statements, analysts have cautiously concluded. Many put the figure as high as 25 per cent harder.
The Nebulosity Index, calculated against a cloud of other orbiting particles, was down, or up, about 46 per cent, in real terms. In apparent terms, it was anyone's guess.
"This proves that Alistair Darling is the right man, at the right time for the right job," said Andrew Marr on BBC News.
His counterpart, Nick Robinson, agreed. "With this budget, Darling is rearranging the deckchairs on the titanic. We're all screwed. Oh god, oh god, of god, won't somebody please think of the children."