Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Damp Squib Budget

I was hopefuly today that Alistair Darling's budget would bring some cheer but it has ended up a damp squib.

He could and should have made some changes to put more money in the pockets of ordinary people. An increase in the starting rate for tax would have been a good move, or a reduction in the 20p rate. He could also have reduced corporation tax for small businesses which would help in the current climate.

Instead we seem to have had a few gimmicks. A scheme to encourage people to buy new cars but only if theirs is at least 10 years old. That won't help many people struggling and even those who qualify will have to stump up thousands themselves as well. There are a few other fiddling measures but the one that is going to make the most headlines is the introduction of a new 50p tax rate for anybody earning over £150,000. Now I do not have a problem in principle with making sure those who can afford it pay their fair share in order to help us balance the books as we come out of this recession. The problem I have is that this measure is unlikely to raise much if any new money. Therefore on pragmatic grounds alone I am very dubious about its merits. It seems clear to me that this is yet another example of Brown trying to wrong foot the Tories. He is addicted to this sort of pathetic political trick (see 10p debacle, IHT and many others over the years) and it will be his undoing in the end.

This is now the government's last throw of the dice and they have blown it. The borrowing figures are atrocious and if anything, Darling has yet again understimated what will be required and overestimated how quickly the economy will recover. With this budget I am afraid they have now sealed their electoral fate.

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