Budget or Fudge it?

I sat and listened to the Chancellor’s entire speech this afternoon. Then Ed Miliband’s response. How can two people make the workings of the same economy sound so completely different?
George Osborne’s performance was pure theatre. A great scriptwriter produced phrases like ‘the road from austerity to prosperity’, ‘we choose jobs, we choose the whole nation’ and my personal favourite ‘the sun is starting to shine and we’re fixing the roof’. On and on and on it went.
He spoke for 30 minutes before he actually said anything.
Then when he did say something it didn’t really amount to an awful lot. There were a few positives. Some changes to personal allowances, a tiny reduction in some alcohol duties, a sensible change to North Sea Oil company taxation and some positive moves to help beleaguered savers.
But then there was a lot of stuff that really confused me.
He said that the ‘average’ family, however he defines average, is now £900 a year better off than it was in 2008 when he took office. I don’t see that.
I don’t see that in the emails I get or the phone calls I get from people worried about their money and their mortgages, or their lack of mortgages. I don’t hear it when I talk to people who are out of work or on zero hour or minimum wage contracts. And I don’t hear it from people paying through the nose for loans from payday lenders that should not still be allowed because they are verging on the criminal.
He said that our public services were in good shape and hadn’t suffered. I don’t hear that when I talk to people about the NHS and the state of some of our schools.
And he said we’re all in it together. And I don’t hear that from the bankers who still receive their multi-million pound pay packets as they watched over the demise of some of our most respected institutions. And I don’t hear it from the multi-national corporations that flout tax laws to avoid paying tax in this country.
What I saw was a piece of theatre, a pantomime in fact. A lot of grown-ups behaving like children as they shouted over each other and squabbled over who said what, who has done what, and who hasn’t done what. It was a political budget, not an economic budget today. All the players’ eyes were on the election and it showed through everything that was said and done.
It was, frankly, embarrassing at times. Some good lines, well delivered it has to be said, but we really, as an electorate, deserve better. There is an election in five or six weeks and if some of these people want our votes then I think they need to get their acts together. And fast.

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One Thought to “Budget or Fudge it?”

  1. Alan

    pleased that wine duty was frozen, but a cut in beer cider and whisky seems unfair (because we import more than we manufacture). £2.10 duty on every bottle of wine plus vat – ouch

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