First of all, can I just say that I was highly, HIGHLY jubilated by Harriet Harman’s thirty minute rant at the coalition. She tore into Osborne and roared with venom at the Lib Dems. Call her a hypocrite but they deserved it. Absolutely they did.
In all honesty, I’m not sure what to think about this hyped-up “unavoidable” “Bloodbath Budget” that we’ve all been dreading. Some are saying that it wasn’t as bad as we were led to believe. Well I reckon all those ominous warnings were just a pyschological spin excercise anyway – you know, make us think it’s going to be really, really terrible, then when it’s out, and it is terrible, it won’t seem quite so terrible because we all thought it was going to be much, much more terrible.
Anyhoo, terrible it was ever thus and here are some thoughts from the PBPFJPSW party.
I couldn’t help noticing that the BBC appeared to be, on the day, seeking reactions mainly from the small business community who were smiling smugly. I’m happy for them. Small businesses are important and I’d rather support the small independents than the huge monopolisers. Big business types (the aforementioned monopolisers and such-like) will be sitting safe with their tax havens secure and well able to absorb any teeny, tiny inconsequential taxey things that they might have to endure. I’m happy for them too because I’m told it’s the fat cats who create the wealth which they then redistribute amongst the . . . erm . . . oh, themselves. And there will be high fives and huge sighs from the bankers because they’ve been let off very lightly indeed, bank levy or not. I’m not happy for them.
The Mail is claiming that Middle England has been clobbered the most but just who is this Middle England? Well apparently, it’s folk who spend larger amounts of money than poorer folk on non-essential items such as white goods and conservatories and the like, thus being more affected by the rise in VAT. According to the loony logic of the Mail, the VAT rise isn’t as unfair on poorer folk because poorer folk only spend their money on food, children’s clothing and other essentials that aren’t taxed anyway. Oh? Well tell me then – when you have a low income with a large family and your freezer packs in, what do you do? And when your teenage daughter refuses to share a bed with her younger brother and sister any longer and demands her own bed, what do you do? Lower paid workers need stuff sometimes too. Teenage kids from poorer families need clothes too and when it comes to clothing retailers, as parents will know too well, kids stop being kids at the age of 12 to 13 thus the ending of VAT free clothing for kids.
Well anyway, I’m sure people earning over £40,000 will cope without their tax credits at least so Middle England isn’t such a victim. Oh, but if you’re a Middle Englander who is also a public sector worker and you lose your job, then you will be affected, badly. It’ll be the public sector job losses (more on that later involving yours truly) that will really start to rock the boat, not least the actual services that they provide. The job losses will have multi-level knock-on effects and the coalition seems to be the only group of people that are unable to forsee the unintended consequences, one of which being that vital services will be harmed, something which will impact all of us as users, as will the rise in benefit claims.
And while we’re talking about the bloated public sector and the bashing thereof, let’s just think about those pensions that the private sector and business community are getting their knickers all in a twist about. Those gold-plated pensions that are making our teachers and nurses and youth workers fabulously wealthy actually aren’t all that super-fantastic, trust me, not among the front-line workers anyway. Personally speaking, and not without some indignance I might add, like most other workers, an almighty chunk of my wage is removed every month and paid towards NI, income tax and pension so, all-in-all, those bloated public sector workers who are just rolling in money, are making a healthy contribution to the public purse and – to – their – own – pensions – thank – you – very – much.
For sure, I accept that, when times are tough, some things have to go, but it would be nice if the bloated right-wing media and the bloated coalition cabinet of bloated multi-millionaires would stop blaming the not-really bloated public sector for the collosal crisis that the bloated bankers are overwhelmingly responsible for. Just because there are bloated fat cats in the private sector who are too stingy to contribute to their workers pensions, it doesn’t mean public sector pensions are an evil and almighty sin. They’re not. They’re just part of a pay deal to entice and incentivise good workers. The contribution that the government makes towards public sector pensions is not a free handout. It is a part of their wage which is deferred until retirement so let’s have less of this public sector bashing and myth-spreading by the jealous private sector bosses because they too will eventually feel the impact of the cuts. Here endeth that particular rant.
Freezing Child benefit for two years is another attack on lower paid people and what with the VAT increase, a freeze on child benefit will be very hard felt by the lower paid and the token tax relief thingy they’ve sprinkled on will go pretty much unnoticed.
Cutting disability living allowance. Harsh one, that. We can all become complacent about our health and take it for granted that serious illness will never strike us but if and when it does, it’s so easy to spiral downwards and closer to poverty. Sure there are those that blag their sickness but there are genuine cases – people who suffer from chronic or long-term illnesses – and to make them undergo repeated medical assessments is a Very Bad Policy Indeed. It’s traumatic, undignified and downright bloody cruel. It could make their condition worse and compromise their quality of life which may already be poor and deteriorating.
The Green issue got barely a mention. It was probably the least green budget we’ve had for years and I think we can safely assume that a low carbon economy is a dream, for the duration of this parliament anyway.
To sum up, so much for sharing the pain. This was a typical Tory budget that Thatcher would be envious of and the Lib Dems can hang their heads in shame.
Oh, one last thing . . . can those people who are screaming at the government to end the international aid please . . . . shut up!