Much time has passed since my last blog entry, the busy life of a student has been all consuming; whether i have been partying, playing poker or just occasionally working, i seem to have forgotten about current vision. But no longer, Gordon Brown's tricky, complex and ultimately shameful budget has provided me with sufficient ammunition to launch myself back into the world of 'blogging'. I intend to expose both the costs and missed opportunites of Brown's final budget, one that tries to please everybody and ultimately succeeds only in harming those most in need of governmental aid.
Where else to start but with the 2p cut in the basic rate of income tax. It is blindingly obvious simply from the way that Brown delivered his speech to the House that this policy was primarily designed to throw the Conservative's off guard. To the tune of roars of delight from the Labour backbenches, the Chancellor waited until literally the last minute of his speech to announce the tax cut, sensing that this would leave Cameron all at sea and ruin his preprepared attack on Brown as a compulsive tax riser. For the record, Cameron didnt appear particularly flustered, his response was littered with personal jibes at the chancellor and his poll ratings, much of which had little to do with the budget. As Ming Campbell wisely pointed out, it was a response critically lacking in 'intellectual rigour'.
What does this theatrical display really tell us about Gordon Brown, Prime Minister in waiting? It is striking evidence that he is just as corrupted by the culture of spin and the aim for short term political headlines as Blair's New Labour. This was undeniably a 'political' budget, one that seeked to undermine the Tories and challenge the image of Brown of a tax rising chancellor; but budgets have a more lasting impact than a single headline and the impact is one that will damage those members of society that Brown claims he wishes to help.
After the dust had settled, economists and politicians alike have quickly realised that Brown's abandonment of the 10p tax rate is the single most damaging feature of this budget, a policy that has the potential to hurt individuals and families earning under £17,000 per annum. The loss of the 10p rate means that the lowest earners will have to pay a greater share of their income at the 20% tax band and accordingly pay a greater share of their income to the chancellor. Brown assures us that this is not the case, as most people who earn £17,000 or less are available for working tax crdits, or other support mechanisms such as child tax credit etc. What Brown neglects to mention is the fact that single people who earn around or fractionally under £17,000 will not qualify for any of these credits and accordingly will definitely be worse off. Eqaully, we must all remember the shambolic way in which tax credits have operated under this government, simply because you qualify for them is no guarantee that you will recieve them. So Brown's true budget legacy is a policy which takes away from all of the lowest earners in society and for what purpose, so as to score political points against a Conservative party that he is so clearly fearful of.
I have a different thought as to who Brown ought to be afraid of post the 2007 budget; the millions of low earners in this country, those who have bought the spin of the 'tax cutting budget', only to realise that as a consequence of the abolition of the 10p rate they will in fact be the group that feels the fiscal pinch. This is a wholly unacceptable state of affairs; just at the time when the Liberal Democrats are rightly making the argument for having a lower tax-burden on the lowest earners, through the medium of stealth and deciet Brown has managed to increase that burden.
I have a call to action for Liberal Democrat sympathisers everywhere; expose this fradulent budget, go out and prove that despite the rhetoric Gordon Brown has done and will do nothing to help the lowest earners in society. We must take this message to Labour supporters and swing voters everwhere; this budget is the perfect illustration that there will be no new dawn for Labour post Tony Blair, simply a continuation of the tired, outdated New Labour project...