Friday, 11 December 2009

The If Only Budget

The Populus poll for The Times today shows just what a missed opportunity the PBR was on Wednesday. The public aren't stupid. They know that this has only scratched the surface of what is still to come. The government's cynicism, opportunism and political cowardice have shone through too and people can see that.

Many of the individual measures in the PBR are supported as one would expect - many of them are populist measures after all, such as the tax on bankers. Interestingly however people also support the rise in National Insurance. In part this may be because Darling has got away with this measure not being recognised for the big tax increase that it is, along with the lies about it only hitting those on £20,000 or more. But it may also be about the public realising that taxes are going to have to go up and being prepared to live with it.

If this is the latter then there is the missed opportunity. Instead of the cynical approach taken, had the government just had the courage to treat people as grown ups and tell the truth for a change they might have got a little more credit. Instead they played their silly political games and got the headlines from hell.

We even hear today that Brown vetoed Darling's plans to introduce harsher measures to try and tackle the deficit. Brown it seems is willing to gamble Britain's credit rating in his ever more desperate attempts to cling to power.

If the Conservatives cannot make hay with this latest disastrous attempt by Brown to pretend that all is rosy and his recklessness about the future then they really are in trouble. This PBR ought to backfire on the government. The Conservatives should be hammering away at them now all the way to the election about the debt and the stored up tax rises their cowardice will cause. Our interest bill for all of that debt is already £44 billion and rising. That is Brown's idea of investment for the future.

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