So, we have the ‘Let’s buy a whole host of gullible voters day’ with George Osborne. No doubt we’ll be told how employment is rising, how the deficit is falling, how we’re all so much better off now than we were (compared to what?). We’ll be told that there are still tough times ahead but that only a Conservative government can steer us through them. It will be pointed out how inflation remains low, how not raising duty on fuel has helped everyone as is seen by the current lower prices at the pumps (it’s going up again George). In short, I should listen to this budget later and decide to vote Conservative in May but, I won’t.
Labour certainly did nothing to avoid the mess the country got in but they didn’t cause it. They made the mistake of trying to be too conservative, allowing high finance the freedom to cause a catastrophic cock up for which they took zero responsibility. They made the mistake of allowing Gordon Brown to take the job of Prime Minister, one for which he is totally ill suited.
The Conservative party have only managed to achieve the level of deficit reduction Labour said was sustainable but they have done it in a way which made the lions share of the burden fall upon the poorest and most vulnerable in society whilst ensuring the rich got richer, that is morally unjust. Our level of borrowing is no less under this government than it was under Labour, most likely more yet, they call Labour the party of borrow and spend. Now, let’s look at some common sense here. When you take money away from the least well off they cannot spend (unless they borrow which caused the damn mess in the first place). If the majority cannot spend as they’d like then we have no need to manufacture as we did, no need to employ so many. Reduce the level of manufacturing and employment and the burden on the state increases from increased benefits and reduced tax revenue. Overall, there is less money to play with in the economy so cuts to vital services become essential. Benefits are hit first reducing income still further. Allowing such things as zero hours contracts (I do blame Labour for those) to flourish might make the employment figures look good but it still means more handouts both in direct benefits and in tax handouts. It’s curtains and kippers as my nan used to say, keeping up appearances to hide the fact there simply is no money flowing.
Even at a local level we see the Conservative party doing the same things. Here in Northampton we’ve had huge spending on totally pointless schemes to pretty the place up. We’ve had our ugly but working bus station reduced to rubble to be replaced by a new shiny one which is too small and doesn’t work, it causes traffic hold ups everywhere. We’ve got a shiny new station, it looks great but, we have no extra trains stopping, many just speed through on their way to London or the north. We are having new office developments being built despite us still having an office space surplus because these are prime sites and office blocks look better than gas holders. We’ve the promise of a new University campus in town replaces two of the existing sites bringing new revenue into the centre but … what shops are they going to use? Many of the familiar shops in town have closed and gone elsewhere. We cannot herald the new ‘Next’ or ‘Primark’, nice as they are because they are stores which simply moved from elsewhere. Their loss from their previous locations has caused more damage than what has been gained in the mall. We lost an anchor store, the ‘House of Fraser’ and we lost ‘The Disney Store’ … both should be seen as a consequence of the mismanagement of the town centre as I can’t imagine Milton Keynes losing either there. We’re becoming a town of coffee shops, 99p stores and charity shops with the occasional short lease store for good measure. Then we have the reintroduction of a road in Abington Street to encourage more shoppers to use that part of town which was completed just as the major retailer that end of town encamped in the Grosvenor Centre! There is barely anything down there, I can’t imagine H&M staying for too much longer as they are clearly isolated down there losing trade to the other end of town. We also have ‘quarters’ popping up around and about, art museums, who the hell, except the wealthy, would spend local tax revenue on art? This is the Conservative party though, totally out of touch with where spending needs to happen.
We’re no doubt going to see some handouts to the poor in this budget, increases for apprentices, a rise in the minimum wage, a 1% reduction in income tax for the least well off, a further freeze on fuel duty. I expect to see something for first time buyers and for small business to take some of them out of some business tax. Things which won’t cost too much and which can be balanced by further welfare announced cuts. I also expect to see an increase in inheritance tax and other concessions to the highest earners balanced with harsh words against tax avoidance.The argument that if we compensate them they might pay some tax. The key emphasise will be on stability, gently on the rudder and the assertion that these hard times must continue for the benefit of the hard working family.
So, let’s see how close I am, should be interesting though, I don’t expect to watch it live so will get the edited highlights later.