The vocal Tories at the Daily Mail were pleased about chancellor George Osborne’s 20 March budget.
There was “no Lib Dem drivel about mansion taxes”, they crowed.
And a scheduled rise in fuel duty was scrapped, leading the Mail to “hope this is the end of the Coalition’s economically crippling obsession with global warming”.
The Mail conceded that “this Budget will seriously harm the living standards of public employees. And... the public sector... is really being clobbered”.
But that is all right by the Mail, because the Budget is “aimed at stimulating growth by liberating the energies of the enterprising” (i.e. bosses: for the Mail, workers are never “enterprising”, however hard they work).
It is a scandal that the Mail feels confident about such views, and that there is probably more pressure on Osborne to be even more right-wing than there is to push back his assault.
The Government deficit (excess of spending over income) went up from £90 billion in 2011 to £98 billion in 2012. Government debt as a percentage of annual economic output (GDP) has gone up from 52% in 2009 to 75% in 2012. (Figures excluding financial intervention).
Yet the 20 March budget:
• added another year of a one per cent pay cap for public sector workers.
• proposed to extend the abolition of regular annual “increments” along pay scales (distinct from whether the pay scales themselves are raised) from teachers to NHS workers and civil servants. The Government wants any “increments” to be included in the one per cent pay cap.
• cut Whitehall budgets by another one per cent, meaning more job cuts for civil service workers.
At the same time:
• corporation tax is to be reduced by a 1% to 20% in April 2015, the lowest rate of an old capitalist country.
• employers’ national insurance payments will be cut by £2,000.
• the “stamp duty reserve tax” on asset management funds will be scrapped.
The sweeteners were small: a 1p cut in duty on a pint of beer. The limit below which people pay no income tax will be increased, saving workers about £2 a week.
The unions and the labour movement must be mobilised to press the case for taxing the rich and taking high finance into public ownership.