The Budget 35


That was such a damp squib it is hard to find the energy to discuss it. The usual New Labour con, built on wildly optimistic growth forecasts. Their budget growth forecast for 2009 proved in fact an astonishig 1.9% too optimistic.

Yes, we should be tackiling the budget deficit now.

The budget in fact did very little, and was much more notable for what it did not do. Nothing at all to split high street from casino banking, nothing to stop banks paying over 70% of their profits to their fatcats in good years and then expecting the taxpayer to fund them in bad years.

Tax information agreements with tax havens are a good thing, but would not normally merit a mention in the budget statement. The fact that the big government benches cheer came from an irrelevant attack on Lord Ashcroft – in what is meant to be the national budget, for God’s sake – reflected just how tawdry this government is and how cheap our politics have become.

What elese was tawdry? Announcement of £270 million to universities to fund “20,000 more students” when the universities were told a couple of weeks ago their budgets were cut £250 million for “efficiency savings”. Net result – universities are supposed somehow to educate 20,000 more students for nothing.

More tawdry gimmicks – announcement of £60 million to fund loans for renewable energy industry infrastructure development, especially wind turbines, when the government had just let the actual Vestas wind turbine plant go bust for lack of £20 million. Most tawdry of all? The plan to raise money and boost the government’s banker mates by selling the student loan portfolio to the private sector.

I could go on, but I can’t be bothered. Sickening.


35 thoughts on “The Budget

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  • anno

    The Chancellor said that one in four pounds comes to the exchequer from banking. How many pounds does he have to pay on the interest? Does the figure balance? If so, why not scrap interest altogether. If you send two electricians to do a job it is overmanning, but if you have a whole industry troughing on interest payments it is considered good value. In Islam you have to pay the scribe who records the loan. So you have to pay the cost of administration in modern terms. All the rest is surplus fat, which I bet costs more to this country than it earns.

  • Abe Rene

    Now that you are a Lib Dem, and are an expert in fields relevant to government in your own right, why not offer to help the party to design a rival and better budget (not to mention political programme generally)? That could be the beginning of great things!

  • Woody

    Is it legal to discriminate between fist-time buyers and the rest of us who may wish/need to move house? Would a challenge be worthwhile… anybody?

  • Larry from St. Louis

    Craig Murray – I just wanted to tell you that the rational people of the world want to thank you for, on a previous thread, making the “Hitler = bad” argument.

    That would seem self-evident in 2010 – but it certainly seems that people at your blog need to be reminded of this fact.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    The larries now claim to represent “the rational people of the world”. People (rational or otherwise), this has nothing to do with Adolf Schicklgruber. Vauxhall wants to tell our host that he’s moving in the right direction but that the blog is not.

  • writerman

    This isn’t really a “Budget” it’s more like another peice of the election campaign. The real budget, when it comes, no matter who wins, will come after the election; and it will be the most draconian seen for decades, because the UK’s economy is truly fucked, after decades of gross mismanagement.

  • arsalan

    Larry, must have a very sad life.

    Anyway, the budget just means more money for the banks and more taxes for everyone else to pay for it.

  • anno

    writerman

    When you haven’t got work, and you can’t pay the bills, you sell your assets, your dad’s old chest of drawers etc to survive. The bankers turn the wheel. The money’s out there somewhere. The price of land is still high.

    It’s only daft politicians who still believe in the market and economic cycles. The monster capitalists release money in order to inflate their assets before selling them high, and restrict it in order to deflate, allowing them to buy cheap and sign us all up to debt.

    If you had a donkey that every time you lifted its tail, gold coins came out of its mouth, would you exchange it for an ordinary one that just carried saddle-bags?

    It’s a good game and it’s called Western capitalism. It’s not fucked, we are. The economic system is doing fine.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    Yes, in this context, I do feel like I represent the rational people of the world. Just like if I were arguing that the Americans did land on the moon amidst a group of silly gooses arguing that the Americans did not land on the moon. I would then clearly be representing the rational people of the world.

  • writerman

    The “economy” is, unfortunately, fucked for most ordinary, working, people. The economy, for people like me, is doing rather well. However, I have strange character defect which prevents me enjoying it to the full with a clear conscience, as I can’t seem to ignore the poor with the same style as my ancestors did, though to be fair, they did build houses and schools for their hands.

  • Andy

    Infuriating gesture towards alcohol control by the introduction of a disproportionate rise in the rate of duty on cider. We all know that real cider is not the cause of weekend chaos in our city and town centres at weekends. Yet more small rural craft industry destined to go to the wall instead of dealing with the irresponsibility of major businesses.

  • glenn

    What isn’t mentioned too often is that the cost of treating all these injured soldiers falls directly on the NHS – and the budget for that is being cut! (Not as much as the Tories would like, of course, because as any fule no, the Tories have always hated the NHS.)

    There are so many hidden costs to these ghastly wars, not least to the wounded and bereaved and their families. Because governments don’t give a toss about broken soldiers.

    *

    One thing which would do more for our economy than possibly any other single measure would be the re-introduction of import tariffs. It’s been understood that manufacturing is the bedrock of an economy from the industrial revolution until Thatcher/Reagan’s Chicago-school fantasy about a ‘new economy’ in the magnificent service sectors.

    The service sector has become in reality, for the majority of those involved, the “do you want fries with that?” form of service.

    Try looking around for any electrical item which _isn’t_ made in China. It’s nearly impossible. Even brands like Bosch, Phillips etc. are actually all outsourced there. It’s madness, and once our economy is totally crushed, given away to create China’s infrastructure, they’ll say “Thanks Britain and America – we don’t need you guys anymore. See you around.” They’ll have their home markets and emerging economies to satisfy, and we’ll be no more than a financial hub for a few big players, the rest of us will be as badly off as the Balkan states after the Soviet Union collapsed.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    “the rest of us will be as badly off as the Balkan states after the Soviet Union collapsed”

    What Balkan states? Do you predict an ethnic war?

  • Phil

    “Stamp duty on sales up to £250,000 will be suspended for those buying their first property this year and next”, says the Beeb’s report on the budget.

    Pray tell, what magic wand is Darling waving which is going to stop house prices rising pretty well immediately by the “saved” amount?

    This is elementary supply & demand “economics”.

    It’s no surprise that Darling and Gordo are so feckin’ clueless, though.

  • Craig

    Glenn,

    I agree we need to develop manufacturing but strongly disagree wit import tarriffs – they will just increase prices for ordinary poorer consumers. Rather we need a massive effort to support high tech industries through development grants, and assistance to our surviving manufacturing industry of the kind that was denied to Corus and Vestas.

  • glenn

    Craig – it seems a lot of my friends disagree with me on this one. But import tariffs to protect home industries from unequal foreign competition does not necessarily push up prices, but rather can equally well save jobs and provides revenue which relieves working people of a tax burden.

    Regardless of startup grants, how could we possibly compete with workers earning £0.10/hour as child labourers, no health & safety considerations, crippling working hours and no worker rights. These are basically modern day slaves, often required to wear nappies instead of taking bathroom breaks. Noami Klein lays this out in detail.

    If we said that there is £2.00 worth of labour in a pair of jeans, and if you want to import them from China fine – just add on £1.90 tariff to the £0.10 labour costs there – we would find manufacturing would return to the UK, because it becomes cost effective again.

    Dyson, Hoover, etc. all abandoned loyal workers and devastated communities when they upped sticks to India and China. They claimed it was simply a necessity given the competition. We’re in a race to the bottom for the world’s cheapest labour, and we cannot compete on that basis.

    How can British Coal compete with Columbian child labourers? Surely the only way to equalise the competition is with tariffs to prevent manufacturers for the home market exploiting lax or non-existent labour laws in the world’s poorest areas.

    *

    I’m all for importing those things we cannot produce ourselves – cocoa from Ghana for instance – without tariffs. We would not be competing ourselves for products unique to an area. But even with assistance to Corus in your example, how can it make steel as cheaply as Chinese steel, where pollution is abominable, worker death and injury rife, pay a pittance and working practices unbelievably harsh?

  • Duncan McFarlane

    There was nothing much in that budget. Maybe they’re saving it for the Election Manifesto? If they’re not then i’m worried it’ll be a Tory landslide. I thought for years nothing could be worse than New Labour. I was wrong – the Tories would be even worse. I’m hoping Labour come up with something just so the Tories don’t get a landslide and it’s a hung parliament – because neither main party can be trusted with a big majority – but at least Labour has a few dozen backbenchers who’ll rebel sometimes (though it’s rarely made a difference as the Tories usually vote with the government)

  • Larry from St. Louis

    “Please pay attention.”

    Steven Pinker would call it a headless noun. Thus, Toronto Maple Leafs and computer mouses.

    In any event, language changes.

    Hilarious that you would chose to police my English, given the environment at this site.

  • peacewisher

    Larry – you (and Steven Pinker) do English your way, we’ll stick to what we know… everyone I know calls them computer mice!

    How about “headless geese” LOL, or even headless chickens?

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Larry

    I wasn’t ‘policing’ you I was just curious why you did it. Thanks for the explanation : I’ve checked with Steven Pinker and he says you have a point.

    By the way, you don’t still believe you guys went to the moon, do you?

  • Leo

    Unrelated but probably of interest to the people here:

    US govt. seem to be trying to stop Wikileaks from publishing a video which showed what really happened when we/they bombed a civilian village in Afghanistan.

    The usual “threat to our troops/national security” excuse is being wheeled out to suppress the truth. I’m sick of it.

    If someone reveals the simple truth about you carpet bombing civilians (or taking bribes from Saudi Arabia, gaining dubious evidence from torture or whatever evil thing is being revealed this time), it’s not their revelations that threaten your troops (or national security or whatever); it’s the fact you did those things in the first place. Have some personal responsibility.

    http://gawker.com/5500703/is-the-us-government-spying-on-a-tiny-secret+sharing-website

  • Larry from St. Louis

    I think it’s highly likely that we went to the moon. In the sense that I think it’s highly likely that the moon exists.

  • Vronsky

    “But import tariffs to protect home industries from unequal foreign competition does not necessarily push up prices”

    Yes. I’m no economist, but the regularity with which the main parties denounce ‘protectionism’ leads me to speculate that it must be a Good Thing. Otherwise we have (as you go on to say) a race to the bottom, where ultimately we are all jobless except our children, who are indentured servants. This is the logical and desired end goal of global capitalism, so far as I can see.

  • John

    The Budget is a ridiculous non-event.

    As most have already stated, one way or another, the Country is “bankrupt”.

    Wasn’t there a time when Britons said, “enough”, and did something about it?

    Pull out of wars, which, are impoverishing the British people, polluting the air globally and creating wealth to make unaccountable tyrants, even stronger.

    British history tells us that, brave men and women fought for our rights to freedom and justice. It hasn’t stopped with the vote has it?

    Anything we receive from governments now, will be peanuts, because there seems to be a strong impression that, the British people are apathetic and craven.

    There is no clearer case for saving money, than by stopping illegal and expensive wars.

    PM Brown announced recently that, the war against Iraq is 7 million pounds OVER BUDGET–the war in Afghanistan is 8 million pounds OVER BUDGET–how crazy does it get?

  • John

    Sorry should have read: Billions–not millions.

    PM Brown announced recently that, the war against Iraq is 7 Billion pounds OVER BUDGET–the war in Afghanistan is 8 Billion pounds OVER BUDGET–how crazy does it get?

  • Parky

    We are not on a level playing field with the chinese. We import their cheap products, so cheap because of bad health and safety practices and low wage costs, if you want to export to china, you would find it difficult as their import controls are so tight.

    Whenever I am looking to purchase something, I avoid chinese produced goods if possible because at one level it is the export of capital that we need to keep in this country and also it is the condoning of poor labour practices and human rights.

    As for the budget, it is good to see that both grain and tractor production is increasing.

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