Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Tories in Budget Denial

The Guardian has a nice juxtaposition on its front page today...

And it's not just the Guardian, the Telegraph (Torygraph) has the same stories and photograph with almost the same headlines.... the question is: is it deliberate?

It's great that the PM has a new child, particularly given the family tragedy of the death of his young son, so it might seem churlish to add an "ah-but"....

But (nevertheless) the timing of this happy family event is a reminder that this Tory Government has launched a budget which damages British families, with what the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown to be a very regressive attack on the poorest families, who will lose much more in total and in proportion to their already very small incomes.

"The IFS said it had always been sceptical about Osborne's claim that the budget was "progressive" but added that this instant judgment had been reinforced by a study of proposed changes to housing benefit, disability allowances and tax credits due to come in between now and 2015".

"Passing judgment that is likely to make uncomfortable reading for the Liberal Democrats, the IFS concluded: "Once all of the benefit cuts are considered, the tax and benefit changes announced in the emergency budget are clearly regressive as, on average, they hit the poorest households more than those in the upper middle of the income distribution in cash, let alone percentage, terms".
In other words the poorest lose most in cash terms and in percentage terms. The richest lose a lot less.

Now, you and I might say "so far so Tory", and even "so what?". But the fact is that George Osborne stood in Parliament and said "My budget is a progressive budget. It will hit the poorest least". Now it transpires that the Treasury was being economical with the choosing to end its analysis at 2012 and by excluding some measures from the calculation, it has given the impression that there will be relatively progressive outcomes. But the budget regulates tax and spending until 2015. And after 2012 the effect on the poorest becomes much clearer.

Nick Clegg, in his defence of George Osborne, claimed that the budget had "fairness in its bones". But he was apparently lying through his teeth mistaken.

We know that Tories "in their bones", care little for the poor, but the Lib Dems have spent decades broadcasting their "caring" credentials. Now that the truth has been revealed, where does that leave the bleeding heart crocodile tears so-called caring Liberal Democrats? In a very uncomfortable place if my judgement is right.

So do they really care? It's my belief that, if this revelation from the IFS does not prompt defections of the Liberal Democrats MPs to Labour, we can consign the "caring Lib Dems" to the dustbin of betrayal and broken promises.

For the last few weeks the Tories have been throwing out the accusation that Labour is in "deficit denial". It looks like they are now in "budget denial"...

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