Wednesday 22 November 2017

Who is actually laughing at funny ol' Phil's "Banter Budget" japes?

Oh how the Tory front bench laughed at all the jolly japes in funny ol' Phil's "banter budget". Jeremy Clarkson jokes, digs at Labour and the trade unions, "I'm a Celebrity" references, and Theresa May wielding cough sweets as if her cough was the only lame thing about her dire conference speech in October.

If you ever needed evidence that the Tories are a bunch of massively over-privileged toffs who treat the job of running our economy like some kind of private school lark, then this budget speech was it.

UK growth forecasts down by £44 billion by 2021; the Tories missing their target to eliminate the budget deficit by 2015 by even further than they admitted they were in March 2017; no resolution in sight to the productivity crisis; slashed pay growth forecasts; another £3 billion spunked on the Tory Brexit farce; a catastrophic slump in home ownership; vast trade deficits; the first OBR economic forecast ever to predict below 2% growth until the forecast horizon ...

One of the big figures not many people have picked up on is the revised £25.8 billion increase in the projected borrowing figures because the OBR are finally beginning to accept that their hyper-optimistic productivity projections of the last seven years are nowhere near the austerity era trend. As you can see from the chart above it's the first time they've not assumed that productivity is due to return to the pre-crisis trend, but they've still only halved their unrealistic expectations, rather than matching them to the dreadful almost zero improvement trend during the whole Tory austerity era.

There's always the fake good news to look out for in a government budget, and this time around it was Hammond's claim that debt as a percentage of GDP has already peaked in 2016-17 instead of continuing to rise until the end of this financial year, which has apparently only been managed by sneakily hiding £60 billion worth of social housing debt off the public balance sheet.

Not only was the budget another admission of the failure of Tory austerity dogma, their unwillingness to properly fund our vital public services, and the economic folly of Brexit, but there was very little in it to sweeten the bitter pill for people who are really struggling.

Hammond's "millenial railcard" is an absolute scam of a bribe given that it won't apply during commuter hours, and isn't available to the over-30s who have endured a 27% hike in rip-off rail fares since 2010 (double the rate of wage increases) and are now facing the biggest rail fare hike in five years in January.

In fact I'm fairly sure that for every gullible under-30 who is duped into voting Tory with this scam of a railcard, there will be half a dozen over-30s who realise that a railcard they're not even entitled to claim is insufficient compensation for having had the most productive work years of their lives blighted by the effects of Tory austerity dogma.

On the housing crisis Hammond gushed about the Tory policy of stoking house price inflation by pumping £billions into their Help to Buy scam, and reiterated the same old Tory gubbins about how they aspire to increase house building rates, with no acknowledgement whatever that between 2010 and 2017 they oversaw the lowest level of new house building since the early 1920s.

Then there was the announcement that the Tory benches really cheered. Abolition of Stamp Duty for first time buyers of properties worth up to £300,000, which will cheer younger people with enough cash to actually buy a house, but mean nothing to the millions who have been priced way out of the market. To them it's obviously just another Tory giveaway to the already quite well-to-do.

It's also worth noting that the Stamp Duty cut for first time buyers is projected to increase house prices, pushing them even further out of reach of those who are priced out of the property market.

On homelessness Hammond pledged to eliminate rough sleeping by 2027 without even a hint of an admission that rough sleeping rates have doubled on the Tory watch since 2010.

Even when it came to the NHS, Hammond fell short of providing the £4 billion emergency funding that the health service chief Simon Stevens had called for.

It's difficult not to see the headline pledge of £350 extra for the NHS for the entire 2017-18 winter period as a deliberate insult, given that several of his front bench colleagues promised that exact figure of £350 million for the NHS per week, not per winter.

George Osborne's approach to budget day used to be that it was better to distract the plebs with trivia like a penny off the price of beer or a ludicrous tax on pasties (that he could row back on later in the week) than to have them thinking too much about the dire state of the economy, or the way he was continually missing all of his economic predictions.

Hammond's approach is different. He thinks the proles can be distracted by Jeremy Clarkson puns and oh so witty "I'm a Celebrity" references, but given the absolute state of the UK economy these days, most people will conclude that funny ol' Phil has badly misjudged the mood of the nation with his 'banter budget' full of jolly jokes and japes.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


No comments: