Friday 18 November 2022

Only one cheer for a not-all-that bad budget.

 In spite of two weeks of carefully  primed leaks intended to give the impression of a brave government wanting to be caring but forced by circumstances (wholly beyond their control!) forced to do the right and responsible thing,yesterday's mini-budget has received a bad press.

The Tories will have  expected the scathing headlines  from the Mirror ("Carnage") and the Guardian ("From Bad to Worse"), but their normally sycophantic supporters were similarly critical: the Daily Mail ("Tories  Soak the Strivers") and The Times ("Years of Tax Pain Ahead.)   Only the Daily Express sounded a positive note: "Victory" (apparanly for its campaign to save the pensioners' Triple Lock.)

The headline  which will cause Jeremy  Hunt to wince most is the Telegraph's "The Rhetoric of Osborne . . . with the policies of Brown. "  Lovely.

The Tories have done what, by their lights, is the "right thing": raise taxes, protect the poor and not cut services (or at least, not yet) and they are getting the opprobrium normally dished out to Labour governments.

Astonishingly, I've heard several Labour spokesperson complaining that taxes are now at a level not seen since the 1940s.  Surly they should be welcoming the fact that an increase in the total tax take is a long overdue step in the right  direction.

As is spelled out in an earlier post , the proportion of national income taken in tax in the UK is 33.3%.(the figure for 2020, the latest I could find).  Hunt's modest tax increases are estimated to cause that proportion to increase to 37.5%m in five year's time, the proportion in  Germany in 2020 (and France's was 46.2%.)  

So we've playing "catch up", are a long way behind, and progressing slowly.

The opposition parties should be shouting this loudly and clearly, praising the Tories for this modest step, suggesting better activities ( and non Activities) to tax and asking for more.

 Cuts have, for the most part, been postponed until after the next election, assumed to be in 2025, perhaps in recognition of the fact that cutting public services as we enter a recession is unwise, or maybe  as a trap to see if Labour will do a Blair/Brown type pledge and agree to stick to them should they become the government.  They, and the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Nationalists, should declare a very firm "No."


Our public services are already, after 12 years of unnecessary  but  ideologically motivated "austerity", pared to the bone, will all (even the allegedly protested NHS and Education) suffer real term cuts in the next two years as a result of inflation.  We need to move towards the French  level of taxation in order to put things right and make our public services fit for all the  population of a rich and advanced country. 




  1. This is so wrong it's difficult to know where to start; in fact it's basically exactly the opposite of the case. We need to get taxes down, not up; shrink the state, not grow it. The tax burden at 33.3% made us a middle-taxed country, and we should have been aiming for being a low-taxed country, not drifting into the high-tax group of Germany and France. But instead the furlough, and Boris's profligacy, sent us off on the wrong direction and now a Conservative government should be fighting to get us back on the right track, not putting the accelerator down on the road to a state the pokes its nose into ever more of our economic business every year.

    But perhaps the worst misunderstanding is on the role of the NHS. The NHS exists to serve us; we do not toil in our nine to fives just to fund the NHS. But that's basically what you're saying if you want to take almost half our money for the state: instead of us being individuals with dignity working to support our families you would have us be mere vassals of the public sector, slaving away just to feed its ever-hungry maw.

    1. I'm happy that we should pay "almost half our money" to furnish a society in which we can all be "individuals with dignity" regardless of our personal circumstances. The other half we can spend as we like. Sounds a good bargain.

    2. But building a society where we hand over half our money to the state and then rely on it giving our own money back to us is totally incompatible with being individuals with dignity.

      That's basically infantilising the population; turning us all into eternal teenagers living in our parents' houses and sponging off them, while being expected to be grateful for the half of our own income that the government graciously allows us to have for pocket money.

      Being an individual with dignity means being able to stand on one's own two feet, and that's simply impossible in a society where, whatever you do, you are effectively working for the government.