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John Rentoul: Looking down the toilet bowl

Posted by Eagle Eye
  • Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 02:02 pm

Alistair Darling is an honourable man who made the best of delivering a doomed message. But the populist one-off tax on bankers' bonuses is transparently unworkable - as Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, asked, what is to stop banks paying bonuses as salary?

George Osborne's response to the pre-Budget report was strong on rhetoric; weak on substance. He had the basic survival instinct to avoid the trap laid for him, although his foot did go right over the edge. He condemned the National Insurance rise on incomes over £20,000 a year as a tax on jobs, but the point about that is that it is not coming in until 2011, so it is, from his point of view as someone that hopes to be Chancellor by then, entirely a matter for him. Yet he didn't say what he would do.

Darling in his response to the response exposed the flaw in the Government's argument. He told the Conservatives that the deficit had to be reduced "in a way that doesn't damp down demand". One of the differences between the parties is that Labour says don't start the squeeze yet. But it is the Government that is putting VAT up by a substantial 2.5 percentage points on 1 January.

And Osborne had the best lines. The Prime Minister wants to get the forecasts wrong on purpose; the Chancellor wants to get them wrong by accident.

And he nailed the Labour "core vote" strategy, which defines as I pointed out yesterday a party that is going down the toilet:

If you want to get on in life, the Labour Party is not for you.


Photograph: BBC

Comments

Honourable Men?
madjeffgreen wrote:
Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 02:39 pm (UTC)
Yea right they are all honourable men. Honourable men have the courage to go to the country.
Ban this filth at once!
ron_broxted wrote:
Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 03:37 pm (UTC)
Would to God we were in Japan and a spate of seppuku was on the cards.
VAT
ktizzard wrote:
Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 04:39 pm (UTC)
But it is the Government that is putting VAT up by a substantial 2.5 percentage points on 1 January.

When the Government decreased VAT from 17.5% to 15% many commentators decried it as trivial, having little if any effect. Presumably you were the exception who regarded the decrease as 'substantial'.
Re: VAT
indyeagleeye wrote:
Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 05:19 pm (UTC)
I did actually.
Still nothing substantive
barncactus wrote:
Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 06:09 pm (UTC)
Relative to the huge numbers flying around recently, nothing substantive has been announced. QE £200bn, PSBR 2009 at least £178bn, etc etc.

I don't really think they are taking the problem seriously yet. Post 3/6/10 at the latest, they will be. Presumably the rating agencies are holding fire until then.
Laugh, nothing else to do!
fazalzahar wrote:
Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 07:46 pm (UTC)
This whole mess is so outrageous, I am just laughing because I can't think what else we can do.
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