Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Puppet Masters Budget

This was always going to be a bad budget (but we didn't realise how boring a budget could be until Darling stood up). It was going to be bad because the Treasury has no room for manoeuvre after the economic mis-management for the past 10 years. Brown has left us in debt up to the eyeballs with the Treasury needing more and more money.

We're the worst-prepared developed country going into this worldwide downturn and Darling's only response is that we're actually "well placed" and that our debt is half what it was in the early 90s. If that is the best comeback Darling's team could come up with, we're in serious trouble.

After the 7th consecutive budget that the Treasury have underestimated their public sector spending figures, UK debt currently stands at 574 billion pounds and will reach 809 billion pounds by 2010/11. And they're probably the only figures that they can't fudge, as the rules are set out in the Maastricht Treaty.

As Darling couldn't reduce the tax burden, what he should have done was what Nigel Lawson did in the mid-80s: Simplify the tax system. The only people making any money from Labour budgets are the accountants.

Instead he squeezed us even more and pretended that inflation really is at 2% and that the economy will be back on track by the end of next year. That's one hell of a gamble, considering everyone else thinks that Britain is poorly placed to face up to the credit crunch. Either everyone else, or this Government, is living on another planet.

The booze taxes won't even begin to dent binge drinkers (an extra £1 onto cider and alcopops might have done) and as for the time spent rabbiting on about plastic bags..!

I don't mind paying for plastic bags (I already buy black bin bags but nobody seems worried about them), what I mind is Central Government sticking their nose into what is a naturally occuring event: Supermarkets will get rid of plastic bags or charge for them eventually - we don't need yet another new law piled on top of all the other ones that aren't regulated.

What defines the ill-thought out madness of this 'budget', though, is the new so-called Showroom Tax. When people are put off from buying a new Ford Mondeo because they'll be £250 a year worse off, all this means is that people will buy more second hand cars - and older cars are less efficient and therefore higher polluters.

This is the same crazy logic that Ken Livingstone uses when charging luxury car drivers £25 to drive into London. It's nothing to do with CO2 emissions, it all to do with taxing people who have struggled to become successful against the odds of living under nuLabour.

Why not tax the 25 year old cars that gleefully pump out CO2 (and a host of other nasties) and get them off the road: Encourage people to buy newer, more efficient models. Saying that, I drive an astounding 3 whole thousand miles per year. So why should I pay the same car tax as someone who drives 100,000? Yes, fuel duty regulates this to an extent but my personal choice of having a comfortable car to drive those 3,000 miles is mine to make - not the Government's.

It's this twisted, nonsensical administration over our economic policies that will leave the Conservatives with yet another headache similar to the state they inherited in 1979. We need a Conservative government to get us back on course.... and quickly.

And finally... One more thing on our increasing national debt burden. In January 2008, Brown said in an interview with The Observer: "Yes, there will be people that take advantage of a liberalised economy and sometimes make the wrong personal decisions for their own debt. And we must have the best advice and the best help for people in these circumstances."

Hello, this is the pot calling... can I speak to the black kettle?

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