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But will it?

Nick Robinson | 16:55 UK time, Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Put fuel into the tank of the British economy, that is.

George Osborne and the Budget box

That was the chancellor's claim at the end of his Budget speech. Backed by his surprise tax raid on the oil companies and promise to hold fuel duty down George Osborne will, no doubt, have succeeded in writing his own Budget headlines.

The test of today's announcements, however, will not be that or, even, the extent to which his giveaways really do ease the squeeze on incomes given the rise in VAT, cuts to tax credits and rising inflation.

The Budget will, instead, be judged by whether the chancellor's plan to cut business taxes and to lower the hurdles enterprises face in the form of planning laws, tax rules and government regulations will, in reality, help speed the economic recovery.

Today's new independent forecast showed that the economy is not growing as fast as had been hoped and that the recovery would be slower than after the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s.

So, even after the sort of Budget surprise which Gordon Brown would have been proud of, the key debate remains the same. Will today's measures put fuel into the tank, as ministers claim, or is the only way to do that, as Labour insists, to slow down the pace and lessen the depth of public spending cuts.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Beer and ciggies whacked.

    Nothing ever really changes.

  • Comment number 2.

    Really, there needed to be a tiger in the tank.

    No tiger, no growth.

  • Comment number 3.

    Needless to say, I'm the only one still in this office today.

    Everybody else has sloped off to cry in their beer.

    Well, they would if they could afford any!

  • Comment number 4.

    No Nick, patently it won't. That was by way of an empty soundbite.

  • Comment number 5.

    Quite possibly the most appalling chancellor ever? If you are one of the hundreds and thousands of people struggling to survive financially......... you get nothing and worse and all because of this mans ideological policy of over zealous cuts and austerity drives and because of rising inflation and rising unemployment. However he still has millions spare for a bombing campaign and apparently is happy to flutter away 11.2billion in lost revenue over the next four years as a result of corporation tax cuts for his rich friends in big business.
    Sickening.

  • Comment number 6.

    If only because sagamix thinks it won't...it probably will.

    it's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 7.

    The problem is the wait and see approach of many companies and individuals. To use a gardening analogy - would you spend money on planting new seeds if you weren't sure that they would grow? Is it better to keep your powder dry for a little longer? All these incentives may be great, but it still takes people who want to take a risk.

  • Comment number 8.

    It remains to be seen Nick if the fuel duty cut combined with higher taxes on oil companies works. However motorists particularly those with high mileage will no doubt welcome it.

    Tucked away in the speech was something spotted by an economist I follow. Here is something from Notayesmanseconomics pointing out that there are some hidden future tax rises.

    "So from April 2012, the default indexation assumption for direct taxes will move to CPI.

    As they used to be uprated by the usually higher Retail Prices Index or RPI we can see that this means a reduction in the inflation-linking of UK tax allowances as time goes by. For example RPI is now 5.5% and CPI is 4.4% so the difference right now is 1.1%."
    http://t.co/Z47Ixpb

  • Comment number 9.

    another plan to nowhere. have to throw something out there for the public to consume or they may realize that the only plan has always been to protect the wealth of the wealthy. Talking about percent of debt figures for 2014 like they have some meaning to those unemployed today. 2008 to 2011 has been a lot of talk and plans but no action...except those important discussions for bonuses for bankers....priorities. All this reminds one of those 5 year plans that the Soviets would produce.

  • Comment number 10.

    So where the growth coming from. They've latched onto the planning system as a soft target but that is just semantics. the UK planning system doesn't provide a hurdle and the planning regulations are already pretty lax in the UK. In my council area the only applications that ever get held up are the ones put in by absolute fly by night chancers which if allowed to go ahead would wreck the lives of the majority of people. Most stuff that brings in jobs usually goes through on the nod as it is. Changing the planning system for economic growth is a pretty unrealistic, when you look at the UK economy holistically. we're hardly a major manufacturing or industrial centre these days with 90% of our economy seemingly based on what happens in the square mile, housing bubble and how many goods made in China are being purchased in the shops! Every developed country in the world has an advance planning system (including China) and the majority of approvals go theough in 56 days (its about 16 years in Italy for comparison) Laughable...

  • Comment number 11.

    So................. the multi-national companies get a tax cut from 28% down to 26% and eventually down to 23%
    .....more exemptions for controlled foreign companies (quite a few held by our conservative friends mind you) to avoid tax
    whilst the individual earning just over £40k a year gets what?....... an increase in the tax free allowance countered by a reduction in the basic rate limit, to get him to pay more 40% tax anyway and then ........wait for it ............. get hit by the withdrawal of child benefit!!!!
    In the meantime, the the 50% tax (which applies to people on £150k+ a year - many conservatives I think) may get scrapped to allow the super rich who can really afford a tax rise, to keep their riches.
    Nice one there.

  • Comment number 12.

    With inflation at 5.5%, real incomes falling by almost that amount, and now 2% above inflation rises to alcohol and cigarettes, many people will think this budget is the straw...

  • Comment number 13.

    Sagamix @ 77 (previous thread)

    All or nothing?

    No, I was not suggesting that all taxes had to be hypothecated.

    It is possible to visualise a situation where a hypothecated tax comes into being as a special purpose vehicle to, for example, pay for the building of a bridge over the Thames.

    In theory, once the cost of the bridge has been recouped, by, for example, a toll on those using it, then the tax should cease.

    This should be mandated in law because politicians tend to be extremely untrustworthy in these matters and may be tempted to, in this example, keep the toll even after the bridge has been paid for.

    And really, that is a bridge too far.

  • Comment number 14.

    Will the Budget help speed the economic recovery?
    My crystal ball says no.

  • Comment number 15.

    John @ 13

    Ah okay. Yes I agree then, let's do some of that. In the box.

  • Comment number 16.

    No Lefty11, Gordon Brown was the worst chancellor in the history of financial mismanagement. I put him right up there with Bernie Madoff.

  • Comment number 17.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 18.

    Too much big picture stuff in the blogs; the reality is that one budget in isolation seldom does any more than steer the economy in one direction or another.

    There were some good initiatives - the consultation on merging income tax and NI, the green investment bank, lower corporation tax, cutting back on red tape. And Cornish folk can deservedly look forward to cheaper water.

  • Comment number 19.

    Contributing very little today, Robin (6), it would appear. I say today ...

  • Comment number 20.

    Devonseaglass-on-the-shore 12

    ' many people will think this budget is the straw...'

    If siad people are too stupid to realise that New Labour are responsible for all this pain then frankly they get what they deserve.

    A few more gimmicks than I would like in the budget, not least the £2bn tax on oil companies, but overall it help takes the country slowly but surely in the right direction.

  • Comment number 21.

    Sagamix@19

    Yes but up to his usual standard...

  • Comment number 22.

    You sound like a man struggling manfully to be enthusiastic, Jobs (20). Hats off.

  • Comment number 23.

    Oh very much so (21). Not too unhappy about it, to be fair, it'd be discombobulating otherwise and I wouldn't care to be discombobulated by Robin. Happened once, that did, and never again if I can help it.

  • Comment number 24.

    Jobs@20
    "If siad people are too stupid to realise that New Labour are responsible for all this pain then frankly they get what they deserve."

    And anyone who really truly thinks that is the case is worse than stupid and will help ensure none of the lessons of the last 30 years of UK and World economic and financial malpractice will be learned.

    I think I'll go off now and see by how much Osborne has managed to trim growth predictions since he got into the job. it really does appear that beyond using the emotive phrase 'benefit cheat' to justify cuts and then to blame poor economic data on the snow, this guy has very little to offer the vast majority of people in this country. Taking us in the Right direction maybe, but he's got it completely wrong.

  • Comment number 25.

    £250m to help first time buyers. Presumably this is being targeted at first time buyers on low incomes?

  • Comment number 26.

    Jobs 20.
    If said people are too stupid to realise that New Labour are responsible for all this pain then frankly they get what they deserve.
    -------------------------------
    Of course in reality there are many many different ways to reduce the deficit and over different time-scales. Many different options on who to target and who carries the bulk of the pain. Who can afford to contribute more in these hard times and who can least afford to contribute. Some people maybe so stupid that they will always blame the wrong choices this govt make at labours door. Then again perhaps its just ignorance.


    Or stupidity and ignorance.

    Or perhaps they are just a bit mental. Whos to say.. eh jobs :-)

  • Comment number 27.

    No point in putting fuel in the tank if you've already removed the wheels...

  • Comment number 28.

    @MrN 25

    This seems a particularly strange move. House prices need to be corrected (ie. allowed to fall relative to incomes.)

    You need more supply. This will just allow builders to shift a few new builds to first time buyers...

  • Comment number 29.

    Hi Nick
    I hope you or somebody else could answer a question I have about the new carbon floor price. It talks about it being used as "an aim to drive investment into low carbon solutions" but then also says it will not do anything to reduce overall carbon emissions; am I correct in thinking it is an eco-tax that only comes into force when the EU-ETS permits fall below a set level. If so doesn't this just elevate the permits to an artificial price level above the base level in order to avoid tax and surely the projected tax benefits (£1billion+ over the next 5 years) will not be met as they are based on figures that didn't include the introduction of the carbon floor plan. I read it was to replace the climate change levy, I like the sound of there being an actual tax based on emissions rather than energy use but i am just a little bemused how it would work in association with the EU-ETS?

  • Comment number 30.

    Will Bertie Woosters package of measures fuel growth?

    Clearly not - he is saying so himself.

    He inheritted growth at 1.8% in just three months last year, now he is admitting growth will 1.7% for the full year following his interventions.

    And don't forget this is a prediction from his own hand picked 'independent' quango the OBR - which seems to be 'revising' it's figures (downwards) almost monthly as each one proves to be inaccurate. Let's see what actually happens in the next quarters figures - don't forget the last real figures showed negative growth.


    Tories: taking labour's mess and making it worse.

  • Comment number 31.

    20. At 18:32pm on 23rd Mar 2011, jobsagoodin wrote:
    Devonseaglass-on-the-shore 12

    ' many people will think this budget is the straw...'

    If siad people are too stupid to realise that New Labour are responsible for all this pain then frankly they get what they deserve.
    ==================================================

    Things were pretty bad when labour left.

    But now they are worse.

    Inflation is higher.
    Growth is lower.
    Unemployment is higher
    Consumer confidence is lower

    Bizarrely as tory actions collapse the domestic economy, in February state borrowing has actually hit a level never reached by labour.

    When are people like you going to realise your tory chums are making things worse, not better?


    Tories: taking labour's mess and making it worse.

  • Comment number 32.

    At 18:32pm on 23rd Mar 2011, jobsagoodin wrote:
    Devonseaglass-on-the-shore 12

    ' many people will think this budget is the straw...'

    If siad people are too stupid to realise that New Labour are responsible for all this pain then frankly they get what they deserve.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Another underwhelming attempt to woo more votes for the coalition.
    Anyway if the last sentence is true it's the Coalition that will get what it deserves.
    Is this some new 'nudging' technique Jobs? "Oi you, stupid. Would you like to vote for us?" Good luck with that one.


  • Comment number 33.

    Jon

    Particulary worrying. The Chancellor, OBR and the BOE. Can't rely on any of these organisations getting it right. My guess is 1.3% in fact I'm so confident I've placed a £5 bet at 14/1. Now that's will be real growth.

  • Comment number 34.

    31. At 19:22pm on 23rd Mar 2011, jon112dk wrote:

    Things were pretty bad when labour left.
    But now they are worse.

    Inflation is higher.
    Growth is lower.
    Unemployment is higher
    Consumer confidence is lower
    Bizarrely as tory actions collapse the domestic economy, in February state borrowing has actually hit a level never reached by labour.
    When are people like you going to realise your tory chums are making things worse, not better?
    Tories: taking labour's mess and making it worse

    -> Jon, I'm intigued to know what your magical solution is to our nations economic problems actually are ?!. The above is the same message you've posted every week for the past month. You seem obsessed by spinning this particular line over and over and over as if its going to make everyone agree with you!...To break your spiraling rant no political party has any magical solution to our economic woes that is either popular or immediate . Every choice facing both our politicians and ourselves are currently dire and unpopular in the short term . Changes to the economy take time. Like baking a cake you have to give it time! I don't necessarily agree with everything the coalition are doing but in my HUMBLE opinion much of our present damage occured in the hands of Labour. Cheers

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm sorry. What exactly was the "surprise of which GB would have been proud"?

    The only surprise I felt was that, (after the last CofE) there was no surprise.



  • Comment number 36.

    If I was Cameron I would be hoping that Osborne gets much more serious on his 'staying in the background' promise. Look what happens when he blunders onto our screens:

    Budget 1 June 2010 - OBR has to reduce growth prediction from 2.6% to 2.3%
    Pre spending review interview - blames everything on 'benefit cheats'
    Autumn spending review - oops, OBR has to downgrade growth prediction to 2.1%
    January 2011 negative Q4 2010 growth - George can only keep on saying the word snow over and over again
    Budget 2 - oops George has done it again, growth down to 1.7%

    Another liability to add to our debt collection methinks.

  • Comment number 37.

    31 jon112

    Ah, but the New Labour "hose it down with money" approach has gone, and only a blank sheet of paper from Ed Miliband is there to try and replace it ....... come up with some sensible proposals (or indeed any proposals at all) and who knows, New Labour could even be re-elected.

  • Comment number 38.

    To me the crassest of mistakes is the implicit assumption that ever more lax planning laws will create wealth.

    We already have one of the ugliest typical street scenes in Europe. No one wants to visit huge areas of our country. The properties are low-value slipshod cheapskate affairs. The construction techniques are quick and cheap, not requiring high value skills for large numbers of people. The results are not durable and rapidly tend towards modern slums. Still, a certain type is able to make a few quid.

    Very strict regulation, as in our conservation areas, is a great economic stimulus. Skilled craftesmen/women and the producers of quality materials flourish. Tourists and holidaymakers contribute to the local economies. The resulting properties are of high value.

    I think the whole country should have been a conservation area for a long, long time. This has not been thought through, like much else.

  • Comment number 39.

    Speaking as someone who works in the planning system, the changes to the planning system will, in addition to being hugely controversial, bring hardly any benefit to "GB PLC" as the productive, exporting sectors of the economy will hardly benefit and/or don't need loosening of planning restrictions, and could actually suffer. Buildings and sites for manufacturing, creative industries, knowledge industries and all forms of office space are in short supply virtually nowhere in the UK, they are often easy to find and vacant.
    The only sectors that will significantly benefit from loosening planning are PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT and SUPERMARKET / OUT OF TOWN RETAIL. Whatever anyone thinks about their general benefits to the economy and society, these don't contribute to export earnings at all (in their UK operations). I can't see how increased investment in retail is any better for the economy than increased public sector investment. It is also well known that opening stores such as supermarkets in a place will cause other stores such as high street shops to close, probably a net loss of jobs on top of the other controversies.
    It may help get more housing built, especially in out of town green field sites (beyond green belts and local services) and more particularly conversions / replacements of industrial and other business use, especially in London. This will however be a problem for some of out best exporting and most successful industries. For instance I can see the "creative industries hub" of electronics, communications, IT and art in Hoxton being wiped out with conversions to housing for City boys. These sorts of industries need to be in inner London to succeed and rely on the protection of "Use Classes" planning gives.

  • Comment number 40.

    34. At 19:53pm on 23rd Mar 2011, richard_h2 wrote:
    ....... "-> Jon, I'm intigued to know what your magical solution is to our nations economic problems actually are ?"
    ===================================

    General election.

  • Comment number 41.

    So here we go again, in one hand and out the other.
    One thing that really galls me is when the Ministers stand up and harp on about the global oil prices driving up costs.
    Fuel cost in this country is nothing to do with global oil prices but has everything to do with greedy governments.
    Fuel duty is 6times greater in the UK than in Europe, why?
    Fuel price in USA is 59p/litre or thereabouts, why?
    Rip-off Britain at its best, thats why.

  • Comment number 42.

    Strictly P @37
    Dunno, SP, the blank piece of paper has its attractions. It has always seemed to me that the more a government tries to do the bigger the mess they tend to create. The present incumbents seem intent, on an ever growing number of fronts, on aiming for the Record books. Brave in some ways but very, very risky. Akin to buying a lotto ticket and hoping it will be you, despite the odds.
    It's not so much that the various schemes/ideas are wrong (well not all of them), but that there will be a lag before they bear fruit (those that do). This suggests a disconnect between heavily front loaded cuts and the eventual down the line remedies to the problems the cuts will cause. As things stand a more measured and gradual programme of cuts looks to be the more, dare I say it, 'prudent' approach.
    However 'the laddie's not for turning' (although turning doesn't come into it really - more like slowing down a little). Hope he's not caught the 'hubris' bug that seems to afflict so many holders of his office.

  • Comment number 43.

    40 jon112dk

    34. At 19:53pm on 23rd Mar 2011, richard_h2 wrote:
    ....... "-> Jon, I'm intigued to know what your magical solution is to our nations economic problems actually are ?"
    ===================================

    General election.
    ===========================================

    It would indeed be "magical", as Ed Miliband has only a blank sheet of paper for policies to fight it with (I assume that Gordy's magic money tree is no longer available), the Labour Party could make itself disappear !

  • Comment number 44.

    Strictly 43

    Labour 42 Tories 35 LibDems thanks for coming - source yougov, 22 March

    Pretty much in line with last 4 or 5 months, ever since Ed's blank piece of paper announcement (and I hate when he copies what Cameron did, but no stupid North Pole trips as yet).

    I'm guessin after today's non-event and people working out they've saved, oops I mean its costing more for their petrol, that these opinion polls aint goanie shift in the Right direction.

    We all know there's not going to be a general election any time soon, but the council elections, as you well know, will be good news for blank page Ed, bad news for call me Dave, and a kick in the chanks for trust me Nick.

  • Comment number 45.

    "Hope he's not caught the 'hubris' bug" - IDB @ 42

    A good point actually. The psychology of some people - and particularly, I suspect, of those who attain great power in a high profile field - means that the more others tell them they're wrong about something, the more they will (come what may) dig their heels in and refuse to change course.

    Arsene Wenger, for example: the more people tell him he needs to buy a decent central defender if he wants to finally bring a major trophy - any trophy - to the Emirates, the less likely it is that he will. (Right, Mr N?)

    And the reverse applies.

    So, you know, if we want Osborne to get more sensible on the economy we need to insist he has it spot-on-correct at the moment. Then he'll probably do a loop-the-loop. Or not exactly, since this would bring him right back to where he started, but rather a U turn.

    All together now ... three cheers for George! ... go Georgie go!

  • Comment number 46.

    NR: 'But will it?'
    ---------------
    No.

    Not on its own.

    Any hints, Nick, around the Lobby that GO will regularly tweak here and there, in between Budgets?

    That is what I think will be required to try to push down inflation. And if it doesn't go down, then past experience suggests the consequences may dictate what happens in the economy - not the Budget measures.

  • Comment number 47.

    re #40
    And what will Labour fight the General Election with, pray?

  • Comment number 48.

    Hello, can I have your attention please. Would the peer who has left their car in the loading bay please return to the fees office and collect their fags. Thank you.

  • Comment number 49.

    re #27
    That's OK, we don't need to get to the cricket ground. The past captain's broken all the bats. A more recent one has chucked the stumps away. The current leader of the Opposition is busy painting the sightscreen white - so we can't play - and all he can find anyway is a load of Bails.

  • Comment number 50.

    42 Idont Believeit wrote:

    "Dunno, SP, the blank piece of paper has its attractions."
    ==================================
    Not if you are in, or hoping to be in, government.


    "It has always seemed to me that the more a government tries to do the bigger the mess they tend to create. The present incumbents seem intent, on an ever growing number of fronts, on aiming for the Record books. Brave in some ways but very, very risky. Akin to buying a lotto ticket and hoping it will be you, despite the odds."
    ====================
    I can see what you are saying here, and agree with it to a large extent. However, it will take a lot lottery wins to pay off Gordy's ponzi scheme economy debt.


    "It's not so much that the various schemes/ideas are wrong (well not all of them), but that there will be a lag before they bear fruit (those that do). This suggests a disconnect between heavily front loaded cuts and the eventual down the line remedies to the problems the cuts will cause. As things stand a more measured and gradual programme of cuts looks to be the more, dare I say it, 'prudent' approach."
    ========================================
    Again, I can see what you are saying here, but if you don't start, you won't finish .... There's no quick fix here.

    "However 'the laddie's not for turning' (although turning doesn't come into it really - more like slowing down a little). Hope he's not caught the 'hubris' bug that seems to afflict so many holders of his office."
    ===============
    Yes.

  • Comment number 51.

    45. sagamix

    "Arsene Wenger, for example: the more people tell him he needs to buy a decent central defender if he wants to finally bring a major trophy - any trophy - to the Emirates, the less likely it is that he will. (Right, Mr N?)"
    =======================

    Actually, his main problem is he needs to geta decent goalkeeper, and has needed this for years.

  • Comment number 52.

    SP @ 51

    Yes I'll accept that amendment - GK too. Both even. And a midfield 'hard man'. Plus an old fashioned, clumsy but occasionally effective English centre forward ... an Emile Heskey type ... and maybe get Messi in from Barcelona.

    New strip? Worth a try.

    But still, the same point applies; more you tell Wenger all of this, the more he carries on regardless. Why? Because success has to come his way (so he garners maximum personal credit) or it kind of doesn't count.

    Now I'm not saying George Osborne has much in common with 'Le Professeur' - I bet he doesn't - but in this respect it could well be that he does.

  • Comment number 53.

    40. At 20:56pm on 23rd Mar 2011, jon112dk wrote:

    34. At 19:53pm on 23rd Mar 2011, richard_h2 wrote:
    ....... "-> Jon, I'm intigued to know what your magical solution is to our nations economic problems actually are ?"
    ===================================

    General election.

    -> Oh very funny. So 'no answer' is your reply. I doubt very LAbour would want any election for several years as guess what they are very expensive. And oh yes I remember the UK Labour Party are £20million in debt, donations dwindling and facing bankruptcy!. Even John Prescott told his own party to get a grip a few months back ! check out http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11049538

    -> Seems like Labour and spending money don't go together very well. Bankruptcy is still an option perhaps!

  • Comment number 54.

    #41 Kilfy

    Whatever you do don't bring your car to Holland or Belgium then. It's 1.74 at the pumps for petrol

    Britain is a lot cheaper - trust me

  • Comment number 55.

    Saga - not convinced about the GK, if you have a solid defence then your goalie is there as a penalty saver

    Am with you on the midfield hard man - and there's only one man for that job

    Vinnie.

    (not Cable though......)

  • Comment number 56.

    11 "In the meantime, the the 50% tax (which applies to people on £150k+ a year - many conservatives I think)may get scrapped to allow the super rich who can really afford a tax rise, to keep their riches.
    Nice one there."

    I think you might be on to something there. Succesful people tend to vote Conservative.

    Must be a lesson there somewhere.

    Meantime, you're implying that the suggested removal of the 50% tax rate is some sort of Tory plot for their chums.

    Remind me what the top rate of tax was for the first 12 years Labour were in charge?

  • Comment number 57.

    Andy

    A spot of midnight accountancy?? Dedication - I like it :)

    But not the Roy Castle thingy, didn't like that......

  • Comment number 58.

    Ultimately everything comes back to credit ratings. Arguing whether Osborne's budget has done enough is futile. Yes he should have done more. The alternative however is as presented by Balls and Milliband: pump priming. Expend more money on the Public Sector in order to keep demand *artificially* (and it is that as none of the spend on the Public Sector is really cash generation) high spend Keynesian tactics to stem unemployment and try and drive growth. Remember the only reason Keynes got away with that approach in the 40s was because the Americans felt some kind of obligation to lend the UK money after WW2. He died and 65 yrs later we were still repaying the debt to allow the founding of the NHS. The pump priming solution is fantasy economics. It would all be driven by a commitment to only halve the structural deficit in the lifetime of a parliament. Sadly we don't have that option: the only thing that is preventing a complete melt down of a) currency b) treasury bond yields c) confidence in the business sector, is a belief that the Tory plan to deliver wipe the structural deficit out in 1 term is going to be achieved. The many no marks on this blog who bang on about the disaster that is befalling the economy from 'Boy George' need to get a grip. This country is one step away from devaluation and a flight trip to New York to discuss with the IMF what funds can be raised. If the markets sniff blood then the ratings will come tumbling down and the debt will be utterly unbearable neverminding raising anymore capital on the markets. Get a grip everyone: Balls is talking... whatever. Yes Cameron can probably sustain the money for a few weeks of bombing Libya, but the big holes in the country's finances (welfare 225 Bn, NHS 120 Bn, plus the cess pit that is Afghanistan and the butchering of the MoD budget to support that) are not going anyway shortly. Frankly the idea that Millyballs might be elected back in in just over 4 years fills me with gloom.

  • Comment number 59.

    Cutting fuel duty by 1p is a joke when you consider the recent hike in VAT to 20%.

    The reason petrol costs so much at the pumps is down to the government, not the price of oil. By far the biggest proportion of the cost of petrol is tax. The motorist also helps to fill the government's coffers through road tax, insurance tax, excessive local government parking charges and (in London) congestion charges.

    Despite paying through the nose, tax paying motorists have to endure lengthy delays to their journey through the use of inappropriately placed bus lanes - which cause considerable congestion and additional pollution.

    People who need to drive as part of their lawful business are being taxed out of existence.

    Not so much a 'tiger in your tank' as a damp squid.



  • Comment number 60.

    @ distant traveller.

    Seriously - read what you typed. By far the biggest element of fuel is tax. The government should reduce the tax. And pay for what how???? Sadly the only means of raising revenue is.... tax. What would you rather they do? Shut your local hospital to pay for your drive down the motorway? Jeez. This country spends nearly a trillion £ on *stuff*. Before bleating about the high price of petrol start imagining what amongst that stuff is not going to be paid for by your tax. Don't bother banging on about banks - that is 'off book' i.e non structural. Ask yourself a simple question - what amongst everything that the government gives me which are UTTERLY unmeanstested would you be happy to ditch? Just take benefits:
    Attendance Allowance
    Carer's Allowance
    Child Benefit
    Child Tax Credit
    Council Tax Benefit
    Disability Living Allowance
    Housing Benefit
    Income Support
    Jobseeker's Allowance.

    Once you decide please feel free to protest against yourself for receiving no doubt some element of it..

    This country should start realising that non means tested benefits is a road to ruin.. 225 bn.. may as well light a bonfire.

  • Comment number 61.

    Saga 52

    "Now I'm not saying George Osborne has much in common with 'Le Professeur' - I bet he doesn't ".

    Well lets see now. For starters they both have degrees. One has a degree in Modern History and the other in Economics. One has has put his faith in Youth the other is cutting Sure Start. One likes to play the short passing game, the other dribbles a lot. One has a great business model for the future, built new a new stadium, the other wishes to stop all building projects and will ensure that the future talent is is side lined for a whole generation. One knows that his future is safe the other has been given the backing of his chairman. One has a right hand man that has been with over a long period of time and knows the game inside out the other was given a Lib/Dem. One likes to entertain and provide value for money, the other just likes money. On balance I would say "I bet he doesn't".

  • Comment number 62.

    52 sagamix

    On the subject of the football/political analysis, since David Miliband was appointed to the board of Sunderland (as non executive vice chairman) on Februray 1st, the team have not won a single game since then - 6 games now, lost 5 drawn 1.

    Even this record, however, is better than his brother Ed's ........

  • Comment number 63.

    Yawn-o-rama. More whining lefties. Move on for gods sake...

  • Comment number 64.

    43. At 21:08pm on 23rd Mar 2011, Strictly Pickled wrote:
    40 jon112dk
    General election.

    " It would indeed be "magical", as Ed Miliband has only a blank sheet of paper for policies to fight it with " ....
    =============================

    Looking at the current state of economic collapse, we could vote in the monster raving loony party and be better off than now.

  • Comment number 65.

    The Times Cartoon summed it up nicely. Put fuel in the tank when the wheels are missing!!!

    LOL

  • Comment number 66.

    I think David Blanchflowers summary is worth a read:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/economy/2011/03/growth-budget-consumer-idea

    "The Office for Budget Responsibility doesn't believe this is a Budget for growth, as it has downgraded its forecasts for GDP and household consumption. Its revised growth forecasts for 2011 and 2012 (1.7 and 2.5 per cent, down from 2.1 and 2.6 per cent in November) still appear overly optimistic compared to others, including those from the OECD (1.5 per cent for 2011 and 2 per cent for 2012), the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (1.5 and 1.8 per cent), the Confederation of British Industry (1.8 and 2.3 per cent) and the consensus of private forecasters (1.8 and 2.1 per cent), though they are less optimistic than those of the MPC (2 and 2.7 per cent).

    The evidence suggests growth will continue to disappoint and this Budget will be a failure. Osborne's contribution to the economy will be crushed consumer confidence, lower growth and increased unemployment. That is what can happen when a cocksure politician falls into the grip of a really bad economic idea."

  • Comment number 67.

    "63. At 08:09am on 24th Mar 2011, Fubar_Saunders wrote:
    Yawn-o-rama. More whining lefties. Move on for gods sake..."

    ------------------

    Has it occured to you that they maybe just ordinary people? Then again Tories are out of touch with reality. Pass the Champers Jeeves ....:p

  • Comment number 68.

    37. At 20:17pm on 23rd Mar 2011, Strictly Pickled wrote:
    31 jon112

    Ah, but the New Labour "hose it down with money" approach has gone, and only a blank sheet of paper from Ed Miliband is there to try and replace it ....... come up with some sensible proposals (or indeed any proposals at all) and who knows, New Labour could even be re-elected.
    ----------------------------------------

    Well Labour are ahead in the polls with a blank sheet of paper. That suggests to me people prefer a blank sheet of paper to the woe dished out by the Tories!!!

  • Comment number 69.

    "Has it occured to you that they maybe just ordinary people?"

    Yes.

    But most of them arent. Lefty11 isnt "ordinary", he's a paid up party activist. Saga is a trustafarian, who wouldnt know what "ordinary" was if he tripped over it in the street. And, in the last 24 hours, you've been almost a prolific poster as me. And I'm definately not ordinary. :o)

    Oh, and incidentally, ask lefty11, I'm not a tory, my last vote went to UKIP. The knee-jerk assumption that because someone opposes you it automatically makes them a tory is an easy and frequently made one. You're not alone in that respect, almost everyone on your side of the house does it.

  • Comment number 70.

    Very good, Mr N (61). Think with that - plus SP at 62 - we've tortured this analogy about to the limit. Perhaps beyond. Course, Andy would find a way to extend in a ludicrous fashion, but he's not around - thank heavens. Probably working on a snappy 'March 2011 - What You Need To Know About Osborne's Budgie' booklet for his firm. So we conclude in a safe & sober fashion: George Osborne is not - he's not even close - to being Arsene Wenger. In his dreams perhaps, but we can't know this. Can't and, speaking for myself, don't want to either - what Osborne dreams of must remain in the private domain.

  • Comment number 71.

    68#

    For the same reason that Cameron was streets ahead 18 months ago, ie because he wasnt Gordon Brown.

    The only reason Labour are ahead is because they're not the incumbent government. Tempting as it may be to read a lot into it, premature crowing may result in egg on face later down the line.

  • Comment number 72.

    60#

    Well said. Realism at last!

  • Comment number 73.

    One thing Nick. Osbourne has done wonders for the cause of Scottish independence. That's another £2bn a year he's going to take out of the oil and gas sector and Scotland still gets nothing in return.

  • Comment number 74.

    re #66
    Thanks for that link - Prof. Blanchflower is one of my 'bete-noirs' {apologies for lack of accents, don't know how to do them on this keyboard} - have only skimmed first two paras but find myself possibly, probably, in accord for a change.

    Our key problem with inflation and rebuilding the economy is that Fuel Duty and the Fuel Duty Escalator are NOT imposed as protectionist measures. They do not and cannot work as protectionist measures. At present.

    The former tax stems from a historical tradition of taxing other forms of distillation. But it has been used to move some of the tax burden from the wealthy and high earners onto the poor and lower earners by successive Chancellors over sixty years when they have been short of money for a variety of reasons.

    The latter was more of a political measure. It was dressed up as 'green' tax but was needed to re-fill the Treasury coffers after Black Wednesday. [Ha! As I post Lamont comes on the radio - shiver!] The Tories, even as far away as 1993 had a good idea that the 1997 Election was lost, so another reason - I suspect - for introducing the Fuel Duty Escalator was as a trap for Gordon Brown. And as we now know, he fell for it.

  • Comment number 75.

    RockRobin @6 (and threads passim ad nauseum)

    If it's so 'grim up North London', why don't you move?

 

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