Thursday, 28 October 2021

Analysing the Daily Express budget analysis

These days the Daily Express is basically nothing more than a pravda propaganda rag for the Tory party, so you'd have to be pretty naïve to expect anything other than heavy pro-Tory bias in their Budget analysis, but in 2021 they went the extra mile with a quite astonishing front page.

Rishi Sunak has just raised the UK tax burden to the highest level since the post-WWII recovery period in the 1950s!

He even admitted it in his budget speech, using the passive voice to say that  "taxes are rising to the highest level of GDP since the 1950s", as if the taxes are somehow rising of their own accord, rather than him being the person who is raising them!

Yet the front page of the Express blares Cheers! Rishi On A Mission To Cut Taxes

He's just raised taxes to the highest rate in over half a century, but hooray for his future ambition to cut taxes!

The disjunct between the reality and the presentation is absolutely laughable.

There are an awful lot more issues in the small print too (too many for me even to fit into the article header infographic!).

2 Billion extra for schools This might sound great if you've been living in a sensory deprivation chamber for the last 11 years, but in reality it's not enough to even return per-pupil funding back above 2010 levels this year, next year, or the year after. 

It'll finally catch up in 2024/25, meaning that an entire generation of school kids will have had their education hindered by massive budget cuts for no discernible reason whatever. Yet the Express somehow consider this decade and a half of wanton destruction of our nation's future economic potential as a cause for celebration!

£150 billion spending spree Hang on. We just suffered a decade of austerity cuts because public spending in the wake of a crisis was supposedly terribly bad, yet the debt's gone up dramatically since 2010, and now we're supposed to celebrate £150 billion in post-crisis spending as if the last 11 years simply didn't happen?

If spending in the wake of a crisis is good, then that obviously means a decade of Tory austerity extremism was pointless, ruinous self-harming, economically illiterate, and extremely bad, doesn't it?

Business Rates Boost For High Street  Everyone knows that tax-dodging online retailers have been dramatically undercutting High Street outlets for the last decade, and that giant out-of-town supermarkets are now soaking up entire family shopping budgets that used to be divided amongst perhaps a dozen different small independent High Street businesses.

Nothing's been done about this until it's far too late, and now High Streets across Britain have been reduced to derelict ghostly shadows of their former glories, occupied mainly by boarded up premises, thrift stores, gambling outlets, and charity shops.

There's some limited help on the table now, especially for the likes of pubs, restaurants, and tea rooms, but it's far too little, far too late.  The lockdown measures have absolutely hammered the majority of the retail economy by forcing them to close their doors, while online retailers and supermarket giants were allowed to continue operating, soaking up £billions in artificially inflated profits. 

There's no effort to rake any of these artificial gains back, and nor will there ever be with a Tory rich-boy like Sunak running the show.

Universal Credit Giveaway The framing here is absolutely insidious. What Sunak's actually done is ever-so-slightly reduced the amount that the state confiscates out of low-earners' wages through reduced social security payments.

Under the Tory-designed Universal Credit system the government used to confiscate 63p in every additional pound a low income worker earns, but Sunak's reduced the confiscation rate to 55p in the pound (which is obviously still more than half!). 

Somehow confiscating a tiny bit less of low-income workers' wages is a giveaway, but the £billions he's handed to bankers by cutting the Surcharge Tax to 3% isn't a giveaway.

In fact it somehow doesn't even warrant a mention!

"By the end of this parliament I want taxes going down, not up" Somehow the Express is celebrating this statement from Rishi Sunak as if it's some almost divine political objective, rather than one of the key strategies of Tory electoral politics:

Front-load all the tax-hikes and attacks on people's incomes into the years after winning power, then ease the boot of people's necks a little bit prior to the next election so they feel like things are getting better and vote Tory, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

It's an expression of standard, cynical, short-term electoral political strategy, not some kind of saintly moral mission!

Cheers! Rishi The main headline, and the picture of Johnson and Sunak (who doesn't even drink) holding pints are an example of the oldest trick in the budget book.

Place a slight cut in the price of a pint at the forefront of the budget, in order to distract the plebs from the horrifying details you don't really want them thinking about:
  • Highest tax rate in seven decades
  • Massive tax break for bankers
  • Cutting tax on short-haul flights (just days before hosting a climate conference!)
  • Implicit admission that austerity was a huge mistake
  • National Insurance hike for millions of ordinary workers
  • Insufficient help for High Streets
  • School funding still below 2010 level
  • No windfall tax for pandemic profiteers
Unrivalled coverage This is just about the only thing they managed to get right on their entire front page. It's so laughably bad that not even the Daily Mail or S*n managed to do worse!

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Anonymous said...

Well on the austerity front they've essentially gotten rid of the majority of figures involved in Cameron's front bench and its been six years or so since those days so that's a lot of distance.

Politically it's also completely taken the wind out of Labour's sails as they can refer to it now if they make any demands in parliament to up spending.

I'm basically of the opinion that one of the two main zombie parties has to die so we can actually get some political change. If Labour had won 2010 then the conservatives would have fallen under and something would have risen up to oppose them. At this point it looks like Labour have to die or we're going to be and probably will be, stuck in this endless cycle of neo-liberalism.

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