Having read a few of the early internet editions of today's papers, the consensus on the budget seems to be that it was boring. So boring that some MPs slept through it.
The papers say that the budget was boring as if boring budgets are a bad thing! I disagree a boring budget is a good budget in my view.
I can remember the 1970's when budget day was interesting, not because it was exciting, but because it was terrifying. People who had no interest in politics would rush home from work to hear how bad a budget was. Income tax and purchase tax rises could mean that wage packets would be cut and prices up within weeks. School and Sunday School trips would be cancelled because working class people could no longer afford the fees as a direct result of a budget. Workers would go into work in fear on the day after a budget because they didn't know if jobs would be cut or whole factories closed as a result of budget announcements. I hope I never have to live through the terror of interesting budgets again.
My main criticism of this budget is the pathetic spin that is included in it. Taxes are raised in some areas and presented as lifestyle changing measures rather than the income raising measures that they are.
If you can afford a fiver for a packet of fags today, you'll be able to find £5.11 for a packet tomorrow. Indeed as the difference between the cheapest and most expensive cigarettes is over £2 you can absorb the 11p difference by changing brands. The claim that the 11p increase is a tax aimed at improving peoples health by encouraging them to quit is a blatant fallacy.
Then there is the lie that having to pay £1000 tax for the first year only on a brand new 4X4 is an environmental tax. Bollocks! If you can afford £60,000 for a brand new Range Rover an extra £1k is nothing. Does the Chancellor really believe that fewer 4X4s will be sold because of this measure? Of course he doesn’t, he just wants easy cash from the people who will carry on buying them regardless.
And then there is the 4p on a pint of beer to reduce binge drinking. If I go out on a fifteen pint of strong lager binge tonight, it is going to cost me 60p less than it will next week! Woo! Sixty Pee - I might stay in next Friday, or drink less - I don't think so!
If the chancellor really wanted to change lifestyles then £11 on a pack of fags, £4 on a pint of beer and £30k on a Range Rover might have done it. The taxes raised are not lifestyle changing tax hikes, he knowss it and we know it.
I don't think that the tax rises that he made are particularly bad. I don't mind paying 4p more for a pint in order to enable those who move from benefits into work to continue to get housing benefit, freeing them from the benefits trap. I'll buy an extra half of mild next Tuesday to help the cause! But why oh why couldn't he be honest?
The fallacy of the chancellor's lifestyle lies are so obvious, they do nothing but bring politics into disrepute.
Alistair Darling could have raised the same taxes honestly and shown himself and his party in a better light by being honest. :
I need more money to help poor families. I'm going to tax those who can afford the luxuries of cigarettes, booze and fast cars, to pay for more family tax credits etc and I am going to make sure that those recipients who squander extra poverty payment on such luxuries pay the whole benefit back to the treasury in taxes
Honest, fair, social democratic and something few would complain about!
So why did he have to lie?