Friday, 21 March 2014

The Budget: beer, bingo and Mr Flibble

So the budget, then. While it's been lauded in some quarters for its pension reforms - not sure how helpful this will end up being, with so many people turning away from pensions and looking to property to provide for their retirement - it's actually something that happened afterwards that caught the eye. The Tories ran this ad on the same day, crowing about giving 'hardworking people' what 'they' deserve. This is not only patronizing in the extreme, it doubly betrays the Tories' thinking. That 'they', firstly. Talk about give yourself away.

Clearly the Conservatives do not regard themselves as part of this group of 'they'. In fact it may be that they don't even believe that 'they' will be part of the potential audience for the ad - they're evidently talking to rather more elevated people about what they're doing for the poor, downtrodden masses. About as divisive as it gets, and a clear sign that your typical Conservative is quite happy to regard him/herself as rather detached from the 'common' man. Look at what we're doing for these poor, unwashed ruffians - helping them satisfy their working class obsessions. Next up: cutting VAT on racing pigeon sales, capping the price of whippet leads and 20p off tax on a pack of Woodbines.  

Then there's the measures in the first place. A penny off tax on a pint of beer. Cutting tax on bingo. Oh, joy. This is nothing less than distracting the poor simpletons with Mr Flibble the sock puppet with one hand while signing the order to close another hospital with the other. They won't notice - they're too busy getting shitfaced and gambling to care about us cutting the legs out from under their society.

No wonder Milliband, in what was otherwise a fairly weak response speech I thought, called it a budget for the privileged. I don't, personally, vote with my wallet. I'm fortunate - I'm in that large middle bracket of people who earn enough to live on without having to miss out on what in any wealthy country like ours should consider staples. So I'd happily forego a few pennies' tax cut, or even pay a few pennies more, to avoid cuts in public services. I don't care only about where my money goes - I also care about where the country's money goes, and on whom and what it's spent.

The Tories, of course, can't understand that thinking - they will no doubt cut income tax in the last budget before the next General Election. By all means cut tax, and cut it properly, for the lowest paid; the people who will actually notice it. But don't just drop it across the board by a penny or so and assume everyone will vote for you because they're £68 per year better off, or whatever the hell it is. 

And what of the Lib Dems in this? Desperate to take credit for the tax cuts that were included in this budget, they were like an excited kid, jumping up and down on the spot as the parents look at the class project. I made that sheep, Dad! That one! At the back! That one that one that one! Look!

Even if this was their work, it's just another sign of a coalition that's somehow holding it together despite clear idealogical differences. When the General Election date is set, those gloves are going to come off big time, I think. I hope people see the current government for what they are when it comes to it.