Now is the winter of our discontent…?
Reading George Osborne’s plans for the UK post-2010 election, and the expectations of Alistair Darling’s budget, I am not certain that Labour has learned the lesson of 1979. Osborne is playing for old Tory ground when he talks about massive spending cuts, rather than tax raises such as would “kill off the recovery.” He can talk about what he likes, but when Alistair Darling is talking in the same vein and speculations about that VAT may rise as might NI contributions, I begin to despair.
What use are the headline measures such as the creation of a new tax group for those earning more than £45,000 annually and the reduction of personal allowances for those earning more than £100,000 when we’re going to go for regressive taxation such as a VAT rise? How about get rid of any personal allowances for those earning more than £50,000 and, a still higher tax rate for those earning over £60,000, a reversal of the estate tax allowances passed by Labour and a heavier capital gains tax, then abolish VAT altogether.
A regressive budget will seal the death of this government. The lesson on 1979 isn’t that unions are big bullies who need to be curtailed, it’s that Jim Callaghan shouldn’t have taken a leaf out of the monetarist book, backtracked on his commitments to organised labour and caused untold chaos with the union strikes. Similarly with the 2009 budget; we shouldn’t be increasing the burden on those least able to afford it. It hardly plays well alongside Peter Mandelson telling people that they should look on the up side and stop complaining.
I applaud the notion that senior civil servants will see a capping of their wage raises at 1.5%, but that’s the icing on the cake surely? Private Eye contains allegations almost every fortnight about the amount this government has spent and continues to spend on consultants, disastrous PFI projects and so forth. Despite this, from local government onwards we’ve got Serco royally cocking things up, defence deals which the MOD is desperately trying to find partners for and railways bosses earning six figure salaries whilst hiking prices.
I don’t see a Son of York coming either.