Jill Kirby

Budget 2009: Incompetent and vindictive

Budget 2009: Incompetent and vindictive
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I almost felt sorry for Darling, as he delivered this preposterous Budget. Lacking Brown's capacity for self-deception, he cannot possibly believe the growth forecasts he offered us, and on which his borrowing plans depend. There was nothing in today's speech to suggest that the Government has the remotest idea of a credible plan to rebuild the British economy; the announcements and re-announcements which purported to support jobs and boost industry were almost all as trivial - or illusory - as the spending cuts which are meant to sustain them.

But this was also a deeply socialist Budget, setting its face against the City and against the engines of growth. Brown and Darling both know that the 50p tax rate will raise very little revenue - and may indeed cause revenue to fall - but it makes them feel good and it puts the Tories in a tricky place. Having swallowed 45p (and in so doing, appearing to abandon the principle that competitive tax rates have a dynamic effect on wealth creation) will Cameron and Osborne now go along with 50p? When you've given way on a principle, knowing where to draw a line can be tricky.

Of course, coupling the new rate to the removal of higher rate tax relief on pension savings is a classic Brownism: don't think you can get round this tax by putting your income into saving for your future. Brown has hit pension funds before and he's no qualms about hitting them again. Meantime, the divide between the public sector executives on huge, publicly funded pension pots, and the wealth-creating private sector who've already seen their pension savings collapse, will yawn even wider.  

Incompetent, socialist, vindictive and above all incredible, this Budget is the last act of a horribly failed regime. Darling knows he is finished, as this Government is finished; they cling to the hope that the Treasury will be able to flog enough gilts to save them calling in the IMF before the year is out - but even that looks pretty optimistic now.

Jill Kirby is Director of the Centre for Policy Studies