Fairness, Growth and Failure

Watching the millionaire cabinet as the Tory/Liberal Democrat budget was announced yesterday I have to admit feeling a bit sick.

To offer a tax break to the top rate earners in the country at a time when £10bn is being slashed from the welfare budget should leave no one in any doubt about the priorities of the Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition.  We are not “all in it together”.  Both these cuts are about ideology not economics, protecting the wealthy and attacking the poor. Sometimes it’s the little details that can be most alarming.  The introduction of personal tax statements to show us how much of our taxes have gone to different items of government spending, welfare for example.  It would be nice to think that this was simply about being open and transparent, however it smacks of adding more weight to the nasty narrative about benefit scroungers.  Indeed, a government source in the Telegraph is quoted as saying “When people see how much they pay towards welfare, the argument about whether to cap benefits will be brought into sharp relief.”
While as expected the Chancellor increased personal tax allowances his decision to freeze the higher age allowances granted to those aged over 65 will hit pensioners hard.  330,000 in Scotland alone.

Enhanced capital allowances for businesses setting up in Irvine and the other 2 new Scottish enterprise zones in Dundee and Nigg is of course welcome.  These were the 3 sites where a request for capital allowances was put forward by the Scottish Government’s plan for 14 enterprise sites.

In terms of boosting the economy the Tory/Liberal Democrat government have surely missed a big opportunity by snubbing the Scottish Governments “Shovel Ready” projects.  The Prime minister himself conceded the link between Capital Investment and Jobs in meetings with the Scottish Government but has ignored requests for Capital funding of £300m to start 36 projects which were ready to commence in the next few months.  Every £100m capital investment supports an estimated 1400 jobs.

During First Ministers questions, Tory members seemed aggrieved at the lack of welcome for the personal income tax allowance increase.  Well, here in lies the key difference between the Tory/Liberal Democrat’s and my party.  I would never wish to be better off at the expense of pensioners, those unable to work or their carers.  This was not a “Robin Hood” budget as some of the Liberal Democrats tried to have you believe, it was a Tory one with Tory tax cuts.

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