Gordon Brown today announced the detail of his tenth, and final, budget. It has an environmentally green donation to African rainforests, a Labour-red increase in spending on schools and hospitals, a Tory-blue tax cut, and probably something Lib Dem-yellow in there too. Frankly, I got too bored wading through it to notice.
It’s the all-things-to-all-men budget. It sticks up for the little guy by cutting income tax, then screws them over to reward big business by increasing tax rates on small companies while cutting corporation tax. It tries to be green by increasing tax on the biggest gas guzzling cars, but then restricts itself to only the biggest gas guzzling cars. It claims to simplify the tax system by cutting the 10% rate on income tax – but confuses everybody by keeping it for savings income.
Perhaps the main message from the budget comes from all of the ensuing media coverage – nobody quite knows whether they’ll be better off or not, because this Chancellor has created a tax system so complex that it’s impossible for any human to get to grips with the changes right away. Yet he still gets his headline tax cuts, despite the fact that it’s likely many people will be worse off. So everyone loves him while also being screwed over by him.
It’s headline-driven sound-bite government. And they said Gordon Brown was different…