See, the problem with blogging hiatuses, enforced or not, is that when events happen, an outbreak of itchy fingers follows soon after. I’m typing this the evening after the pre-budget report where Darling did himself no favours by targeting the low paid (once again) and everyone else. Except the villains of the piece, our friendly, greedy bankers and MP's.
What do you mean they got hit with a huge tax hike? Have they not got clever accountants who can evade paying their share? Darling’s proposals in this respect were like a blunt instrument, designed to appeal to the “Labour” constituency, rather than put forward proposals which will be a proper disincentive for the excessive “bonuses”. This won’t work, especially amongst those of us who remember New Labour’s refusal to condemn greedy bonuses until Obama came along, while seeming to be content to put taxes up for the low paid. This week's Private Eye features a reminder of Brown's treatment of Non Doms being different when they were giving money to New Labour.
In any case it’s not the well off who will pay for the greed and vanity of the City, it will be the ordinary person in the street, VAT will go up again and an extra 0.5% will be put on to National Insurance contributions, with the possability of tax hike's further down the road. That of course does not mention the game of my cut is bigger than your cut that Darling and Osborne have been rather tastelessly playing with each other in front of fearful public sector workers.
While Darling was busily giving with one hand and taking away with the other, George Osborne was convincing absolutely no one that he is the Chancellor in waiting. Yes New Labour have driven this country close to bankruptcy, and yes their handling of the economy is questionable, but Osborne has not said that he disagrees with the bale-out of the banks, the light touch regulation regime or the various PFI/PPP schemes. All of whom have contributed to the black hole at the heart of UK plc’s finances. I suspect that true Thatcherite’s would secretly have rather let Northern Rock, RBS and HBOS go to the wall rather than prop them up with billions of pounds of public money, but then their friend’s would have been up to their necks in the brown stuff.
Osborne went on and on about Darling and Brown driving Britain into recession, but the truth be told, Brown and Darling drove Britain into recession with Tory policies. Millions of pounds disappear each year into the second mortgage scheme originally known as the Private Finance Initiative. Used with such zeal by New Labour to fund the refurbishment of Schools and Hospitals up and down the country, the current SNP/Lib Dem administration in Cotton Street are extremely reticent in discussing PPP’s role in Renfrewshire Council’s financial woes. PFI was originally the brainchild of the former Conservative Chancellor Norman Lamont. The Thatcherite wing of the Conservative party always pride themselves in believing in little or no regulation for business, no surprise that Brown’s policy of “light touch” regulation raised not one complaint from the Conservatives, at least until the Banks started to fall. Conservatives also always believe in low taxation, and cutting taxation, whether it was in the interests of the country or not. Yet they have been stony-faced when Brown cut taxes when times were good, even going so far as introducing a starter rate of 10%. The Tories did not complain about fixing roof’s at this point, and they certainly did not complain when the 10% tax rate was abolished, the New Labour MP Frank Field lead the rebellion against that folly.
During the initial responses, the most impressive voice was that of Vincent Cable, who hit the nail on the head once again with his analysis that New Labour had not learned from their mistakes and were intent on building the UK economy on sand once again. It’s a pity the SNP representation at Westminster was so ordinary and anonymous, they had to roll John Swinney out for the news. The SNP MP that was brought on to Newsnicht seemed to get caught up in the debate without making his mark. John McFall the New Labour chairman of the Treasury committee trotted out the already worn out slogan for the next election, that there was only two choices between a Tory government and a “Labour” government. On the evidence of this week’s Pre-Budget Statement, that’s a choice between a red Tory party and a blue Tory party, both sides seem incapable of telling us the truth or do not have the necessary proposals in place to cut the deficit while keeping the economy moving. Time to hear about a third way methinks.