24 March 2010

Counting the Beans

I have to confess - my plan to sit down and digest the Budget in full were disrupted somewhat when my LibDem Councillor decided to come round canvassing, and also to attempt to convince me that flattening a beauty spot for the sake of two houses and the neighbours' ability to watch Cash in the Attic is worth the loss of a pleasant green space. He also said that he wasn't bothered about how I voted in a General Election - showing how much (or how little) respect the LibDems have for voters in areas where they can't print out one of those bloody bar charts.

Anyway, before I was rudely interrupted, I have to say that I wasn't expecting much from the Budget but still ended up disappointed.

It didn't help that at PMQs, Gordon Brown protested that the Tories kept going back over past decisions and should talk about the future, only for Alistair Darling to open his speech with a lengthy passage which involved going back over past decisions. Oh dear.

And I noticed that their was a plan to jack up duty on cider and alcopops, as the Treasury had spotted that they weren't making enough money out of it. Think about it: it's not about tackling binge drinking, it's about spotting that cider drinkers are paying less tax than beer or wine drinkers. And fuel duty is still going up, but in stages.

And there was the moment where Tories celebrated the adoption of one of their few ideas - lifting the stamp duty threshold - only for Labour to celebrate when an increase in the stamp duty rate for £1m+ houses.

And of course, the claim that they're helping first time buyers seems hollow when the Government axed the Ownhome shared equity scheme months ago (though at least the ISA threshold is going up).

Meanwhile, with easy credit being the source of the present financial crisis, the Government wants to gain make it easier to lend money. I found myself humming History Repeating by Shirley Bassey at that one. And gloating that the Bank Bonus Tax has netted more than double the Treasury expected to only serves to underline just how much money the banks are still dishing out in bonuses.

Then there was the real laugh: lines about how you can't cut your way out of recession and how making cuts too soon could prove disastrous, only near the end of the speech for Darling to announce that they'd already found cuts to make and that the next Comprehensive Spending Review is going to be ugly.

And at the end, a very lengthy passage about how they'd managed to rub the Tories' oses in Lord Ashcroft's mess.

So basically, the statement was riddled with contradictions and we have no idea of how a Labour Chancellor after the Election would behave. Unfortunately, David Cameron's speech was equally devoid of content - it was basically a rant about how Labour are rubbish and he should be in charge now - so we're left utterly lost. We're told that this election sees us forced to choose between two competing visions, but with just a few weeks until the election, we haven't a clue what those visions are. How dismal.


Anonymous said...

"So basically, the statement was riddled with contradictions and we have no idea of how a Labour Chancellor after the Election would behave."

Be fair, Will: Darling can't possibly have any idea how a Labour Chancellor will behave after the Election. We all know it won't be him...

Will said...

Good point... come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I detected a hint of glee when Darling announced that the next CSR would be tough, knowing as he does that whatever happens, it'll be someone else's problem...

Allan said...

Been saying that for a while, thast the election's a choice between a guy who has been a disaster and a guy who will be a disaster.

Interestingly on "This Week" last night, Portaloo said that the Tories had lots of policies, its just that people are too lazy to look at their website. Surely the point of elections is that Polititians tell us their policies rather than us hunt them down...

Anon & Will, still might be Darling's problem, Ball's might lose his seat!

Anonymous said...

It seems Brown is going to say Darling will be Chancellor if Labour win in the next election. Wonder what Balls makes of that?

Ted Harvey said...

Have you also noticed that Darling that has dropped the mantra 'protect the NHS' and instead is talking of protecting the 'bulk of' NHS spending?

NHS spending versus 'Bulk of' NHS spending???... that's an awful big gap amounting to more than semantics.

Meantime, have you seen the stuff in today's Sunday Times on alleged links between Labour MP Tommy McAvoy and Labour Party donor millionaire Haughey. This was about Tommy McAvoy's purchase of the County Inn in his Lanarkshire constituency? Seems that the pub is massively in debt.

The ST article includes some speculation about how Tommy ever did raise the full large amount of money to buy the pub in the first place.

Earlier local pub gossip did include conjecture on possible links between Tommy's recently announced intention to stand down and the utterances of outgoing Labour MP Devine (that is the 'this-is-how-we-did- things-in-the-union-Devine' on the matter of allegedly improper invoices for expences).

Devine, in his car-crash interview on Channel 4 kept excusing his alleged indiscretions by referring to a senior Labour MP who advised him when he arrived in the Commons on how 'these things were done' i.e. expences claims... but he steadfastly refused to name this senior MP.

No doubt these disgraceful types who engage in pub gossip will now conjecture on other possible reasons for Tommy's decision to stand down.