It's official. The poorest ten per cent in Britain will see their shopping bills rise and lose the most as ConDem make up the deficit their banker friends caused by raising VAT to 20 percent and cutting our public services. Nick "Ramsay McClegg" Clegg just helped push through the most draconian budget in decades despite all their promises in the run-up to the election, and gave his party their Clause Four moment.
I listened to Vince Cable squirming last night on C4 News as he was quizzed over the LibDem election pledge not to hike VAT as it is a regressive tax that hits the poorest hardest. We were treated to the usual politicians' weasel words, "I may have said that but that's not what I meant". Humpty Dumpty can make words mean whatever he wants, whenever he wants.
I wonder how the LibDem party faithful feel now when you can search on the internet for "libdem vat election ad" and find the unequivocal image above plastered all over their websites. I wonder if there'll be a swift spate of deletions as this part of their bid for political power gets airbrushed out of history. Will it be like Chinese art during the Cultural Revolution, when a person's party loyalty could be measured by the size of the red tractor in their landscapes? In this case, the rebels feature it prominently, while the greasy-pole ascenders minimise or delete it altogether.
More weasel words as David Cameron learns from 1984 and mangles the English language, calling this budget "progressive" when all the evidence shows that it is no such thing.
How progressive is it to raise a tax where the richest ten percent pay one pound in every £25, while the poorest ten percent pay one in every £7? Not just VAT: by a ratio of four to one, the deficit is being paid for by those who did nothing to cause the recession. Why not raise top rates of tax? Even under Thatcher the top rate was 60%. The only crumb of comfort is the rise in the threshold where you start paying tax, but this still means that the poorest end up paying the most when all the changes are taken into account.
Child benefits have been frozen for three years and public departments cut by 25% , while Morgan Stanley joyfully declares the "Austerity Budget" a big win for business. The corporate tax rate falls 1% per year from 28% to 24% by 2013/2014 but a levy on the banks balance sheets rises to only 0.07% by 2012.
Despite a rise in Capital Gains tax by 10% to 28%, Morgan Stanley says:
In general, we thought this was a sensible, balanced and business-friendly budget, which is actually likely to result in an effective tax cut for UK PLC of c. £2.3bn by 2012/13.
And The Daily Telegraph reports the Planet Business rubbing its hands with glee:
Dismissing fears that increasing taxes and cutting public spending could send the country back into recession, the Institute of Directors (IoD) said the Chancellor had "faced up to the challenge", while the British Chambers of Commerce hailed the strategy as "courageous".
Moustache-twirling, bean-counting, avaricious creeps, the lot of them. But this is to be expected of the Conservatives because this is what they do and that is why more than two thirds of the electorate voted left of centre. In empowering them, Clegg has just crapped over everything the LibDems are supposed to stand for.
We all know by now that 23 out of 29 members of the cabinet are millionaires, including Clegg. One of them is George Gideon Oliver Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer who gave us yesterday's budget, and heir to the wallpaper brand of Osborne and Little. One of the blizzard of tweets yesterday wished for 100% tax on inherited wallpaper fortunes. I've always disliked the company's bland tasteless metallic nouveau-riche designs (explains a lot) and I'd be happy just to see him take a pasting and then get hung.
And a moment of silence for poor old Billy Bragg, a decent man criminally misled by his own wishful thinking.