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The politics of the Budget

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Nick Robinson | 11:29 UK time, Wednesday, 22 April 2009

This Budget will turn early New Labour politics on its head, a leading Brownite tells me.

What he means by that is that unlike Brown Budgets there'll be no more "stealth taxes". The aim will be to put up in lights tax rises on the rich - the clawback of tax relief on pensions, for example - and to challenge the Tories on whether they would prefer to help "the few" rather than "the many".

This may not be a modern version of Lloyd George's People's Budget but it will put a focus on fairness.

Where the stealth will come in is in spending cuts. The chancellor will attempt to draw a distinction between "investing in growth" now and what he dubs "savage cuts" proposed by the Tories. This will conveniently ignore the fact that the spending plans he's already unveiled involve what Labour called "cuts" when they were proposed by Michael Howard at the last election.


  • Comment number 1.

    Really ? I just expect to get hammered - as usual

  • Comment number 2.

    Nick - ZanuLabour - Robinson still spinning their propaganda. Give up -say it as it is, or get Stephanie Flanders to replace both u and Peston -save money and more objective reporting.

    As for the Budget - who cares - the UK is finished and we have huge financial burdens on our children, and childrens children, for decades.

  • Comment number 3.

    There is no way that only the rich will get hammered. We are all going to suffer from the incompetence of Gordon Brown's tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
    He really owes it the the British taxpayers to call an election and leave politics for good.

    The hand of history is heavy on his shoulders, he must go.

  • Comment number 4.


    I was under the impression that it was illegal to leak budget reports and other market sensitive data?

    After all, an MP was arrested for doing the very same thing. How is it that Labour repeatedly leak any and everything to the press before the official release and get away with it?

    I don't really have a problem with being taxed a 'little' bit more as a higher earner - I actually think it's fair and reasonable. What I don't want is to get hammered for getting off my backside and making something from my life, for putting the personal effort in to improve my lot in life. I fear I will though....

  • Comment number 5.

    In other words this will be a budget which throws money at Labour's base (to prevent them heading towards the Lib Dems) while picking the pockets of the rest of the country.

    In my experience of "fair" budgets single people seem to suffer at the expense of families.

  • Comment number 6.

    This is not a budget it is a bill.

    We are now going to pick up the tab for twelve years of Gordon Brown's waste.

    It doesn't matter who is going tobe given the bill the rich or the poor the fact is that this a the bill for newlabour pet projects for twelve years and it is an enormous bill which will take decades to repay.

    The BBC arguin about dividing ines is like the drunk arguing that a bottle of Martini will do him less damage than a bottle of vodka; there are no dividing lines of the type they describe; only those who want to sober up an those who want to drink/spend themselves into an early grave.

    The attempt by the BBC to cclutch at every newlabour straw in the hope of the faintest return of a workable narrative is beyond scorn.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 7.

    hi Nick,

    can I apologise on behalf of my fellow bloggers - I know and you know and they know and, what's more, they KNOW that I know that you know that we all know ... that you are reasonably impartial in your presentation of information (if anything, you can be a bit Clowny at times) ... thing is, anything short of "Brown's a muppet, vote Cameron" is going to set off the charges of pro-Lab bias - you can't win, babe, so please don't worry or, you know, get down on yourself about it

  • Comment number 8.

    It's a bit late in the day (twelve years in) to start being honest in Budget statements.

    I guess the needle on the moral compass got stuck by the magnetic pull of power. Now that's slipping away, perhaps a little honesty is welcome, though it won't make much difference.

    I thought Nick was going to say this will be historic as the biggest reddest - and saddest - set of figures in peace-time.

    So far, massive governmnet spend has not been about investment in the future, but mopping up problems from the past since Brown (NOT Thatcher) introduced light-touch regulation.

    Where are our power stations? That would have been investing in the future. So just as the lights go out, Brown wants everybody in electric cars? Talk about a barmy army...

  • Comment number 9.

    Yes, yes, we all know it is called "investment" when it is increased and "spending" when it is cut, but it's still a load of old proverbials.

  • Comment number 10.

    "Investing in growth" - there will be very low growth if any at all. And the OECD has setimated that 7.2 percentage points of the 12% deficit is structural, i.e. there will be an additional 100 billion pounds a year added to the debt once growth has resumed and no other measures to really cut spending and raise revenues are put in place. The problem of course is that cuts will be hard to come by given the power of the unions who bankroll Labour, while revenue raising measures will discourage even more people to put in an effort after all the means-tested benefits and death taxes and council taxes.

    Re pension claw back - another measure that will make public sector jobs more attractive reletaive to the private sector and the claw back possibly against constitutional principles, or at least against best practice of not legislating with retrospectively. And of course, BBC employees will not be affected by this one as their pension is paid for by those who will suffer claw backs.

  • Comment number 11.

    yep; cool idea; penalise the only people in the country who actually generate income for the country, and then use all that money for bogus government jobs that don't fulfil any purpose, all as a temporary way to hide the real unemployment/economic statistics in time for the next election.

    All they're doing is continuing the policies that got us saddled with all this government debt in the first place; they still don't understand why we're in so much trouble, so there's no hope whatsoever of them ever getting us out of it.

    It's not sustainable; they have to cut waste properly, and stop giving automatic increases (usually above inflation) every year to every government department going. They have to admit that they've been wrong by spending more than they earn every year (even during boom years).

    There's only so long that you can go for when you spend more than you earn before you go bankrupt. We're at the edge right now. Even the IMF warns that the UK is on the edge of total government bankruptcy, yet Brown/Darling still won't admit that any of their policies have been wrong.

    Trillions of pounds of government debt after the longest most benign boom in history, and yet they've done nothing wrong?

    I'm looking forward to the election.

  • Comment number 12.

    Fairness? Labour don't know the meaning of the word.

    If they were interested in fairness they would scrap the Barnett Formula and make an English and Welsh lives worth the same as Scottish or Northern Irish Lives.

    Fat chance. The Barnett Formula exists to ward off Scottish nationalism and to keep the Union together at any price. Unfortunately it's the English who are paying.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.


    Nice rant but not very accurate - the Tories kept the Barnett formula from 1979 - 1997, it was hardly in place before then, so hard to blame Labour for this?

    Also Kelly and Duncan-Smith left their birthplaces as young children to live in England - so what does any of this prove? I'm an eigth Austrian but I wouldn't want to ne annexed by Hitler. QED

  • Comment number 16.

    We can stop listening to the budget now. Darling forecasts 1.25% growth in 2010 and trend growth of 2.75% per annum. The 2010 forecast is not just higher than the average forecast by market forecasters and international organisations, but higher than the top end of the range of those forecasts.

    And a new training scheme ...
    ... to keep unemployment artificially low.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    Nick - I would be interested to hear what happens to a Government when it's credibility evaporates.

    All this talk of narrative is becoming a bit laughable.

    What also about the Electorate's increasing anger at the lies & incompetence of this Administration - e.g. scapegoating Ken Boston and other Civil Servants to save political skins?

    What has happened in recent political history when the UK electorate wants to severely punish a political party?

    In my view the whole New Labour project could spectacularly come apart at the seams, and perhaps the Labour Party as a whole as the Electorate seeks to gain revenge. Could be nasty.

    Is Guido going to beat the Lobby correspondents to the tipping point again I wonder?

  • Comment number 19.

    Sagamix's idea of political debate is childishly assigning nicknames to the opposition.

    Seriously, it doesn't improve your argument, and makes you look like desperate man who must lower himself to insults because he doesn not have any real points to make. I know you will bluster and bluff, and point out that you are only responding to gordon brown's many nicknames, but these are all at least amusing, and pick up on apects of his personality or reign of terror. Do yourself a favour, and stop the childish namecalling. My children can manage that kind of debate better than you can.

    I will echoe what a few others have already said. A "fair" budget will be interpreted as one that redistributes wealth. Personally, I do not want my wealth redistributed to the welfare generation, they can get off their backsides and earn their own. I work very very hard for a living, and I do not do it so I can pay for those who will not help themselves. If the higher rate relief on pensions goes without public sector pensions being slashed, I will not stay in this country, and I suspect that a large number of higher rate taxpayers (note, I am only just in the higher rate band at the moment) will also vote with their feet.

    Redistribution of wealth DOES NOT equal fair, so lets purge ourselves of that little nonsense. Redistribution of wealth DOES equal popular, to the lazy and incompetent that is. I have no problem supporting the incompetent, but I draw the line at the lazy.

    Regarding Nick's impartiality, I think he does a decent job on the whole and is given a bit more stick than he rightly deserved. Of course he should be criticised when he strays from the path, but people have to recognise that he is trying to show everything in a fair light, and when all he has to work with is incompetence that can come accross as favouratism. He may be overcompensating for Labour a little, but but most people who post on the blog are able to read between the lines.

  • Comment number 20.

    GBP525 million for new offshore wind farms.

    GBP50 million for improvements to armed forces' accomodation.

    What a shocking kick in the teeth for our armed forces.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    great @ 19

    If the higher rate relief on pensions goes without public sector pensions being slashed, I will not stay in this country

    so, if you can break off from all the hard work you're doing supporting our army of good for nothing Scroungers, you should be chuckling away like mad at my post above - it's got all your favourites! - which is the most amusing one, in your opinion?

    on the Budget, I haven't seen the detail yet (apart from the new 50 pc) and so I don't know if you're staying or going - one thing I will say, however, is when someone says they are going to leave the UK because public spending is too high, what they usually mean is something far more prosiac ... like the weather? ... or maybe the weather?

  • Comment number 23.

    ... but I agree your point about the growing imbalance between public and private sector pensions

    a real issue that needs looking at

  • Comment number 24.

    Historically this is a watershed in UK English and national budgets.
    The degree of debt required by NuLabor is stated at £700 billion over the next few years. But when has Gordon Brown and his abacus managed to get his figures right? Not since he has been an MP, and I certainly doubt his university figures were correct.
    Yet Nick talks about the end of stealth taxes, as if this will appease us.
    I do not agree with the greatHayemaker in being nice to Nick, he made his bed and he must lie on it.
    Daily he is on bbc Toady and other news programmes with Peston (who is now hedging his bets), but never has the courage to tell the truth in spite of the now changing environment in the bbc that the end is nigh.
    I hope that Thompson and Lyon have their lawyers in place for their pension rights - personally I would really punish them for supporting economic sabotage - much like Stalin (Brown?) would have done.


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