Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Boris Johnson's Policy Director on Darling's Budget

Feeling let down by yesterday's pre-budget report, I turned to read the verdict of Boris Johnson's new Policy Director Anthony Browne:

"This was the payback Budget: the wealthy of London, or at least its bankers, had caused the economic crisis, and now they would have to pay for it through their pockets."


"Short of introducing a London banker tax, this is as close a direct hit that the Chancellor could get on those who brought the country to its knees. It is overall an Old Labour redistributive budget, yanking up taxes on the rich to help the poor."

Wow. Here was me thinking this was just another piece of New Labour tinkering which would fail to help the poorest. Turns out I was worrying about the wrong people:

"in London this effect is magnified massively: Alistair Darling has done far more to redistribute wealth here than anywhere else. It is redistribution with a capital R."

Better than spelling it with a capital M I suppose. So how about giving us some detail?

"the Chancellor's various measures to increase taxes on the rich - with different tax hikes hitting those on more than £100,000 a year, more than £140,000 a year and more than £150,000 a year - may be hardly felt at all in many parts of Britain, but in London they affect significant numbers.
...of rich people.
"All those on more than £100,000 a year will be at least £1,000 a year worse off because of the halving of their personal allowances. All those on more than £140,000 a year will be at least £2,000 a year worse off because of the scrapping of their personal allowances. It is almost as though the Budget is the revenge of England on the affluent of Kensington and Chelsea."

You almost sold it to me there Anthony Browne. You almost went and managed it.


Will said...

Boris first reaction to the recession was to defend the bankers. Anthony Browne's first reaction to the recession is to defend the bankers and their mates. They're 2 cheeks of the same arse.

Tom said...

Aye, comment posted on the Standard to that effect. True colours shining through, eh?

Will said...

You're forgetting Tom he's proposed an immigrant amnesty, so he's progressive really, honest. We can't have bankers getting their cleaners deported you see.

Tom said...

Actually, the immigrant amnesty isn't going to be any more popular amongst his core support than the 'won't you think of the poor bankers' line.

Helen said...


Was Boris looking in a mirror when he wrote this?: 'He accused Mr Brown of treating Londoners like "a bunch of overweight and exhausted laboratory rats" who he hoped would do his bidding.'

The Troll said...

Thanks Helen. I had meant to add a link to Boris's column. For those of you who are struggling to keep up with this, here is Boris stating we should spend our way out of a recession:


and here he is stating that we shouldn't:


Confused? Delighted? Baffled? Elated? Where's Angela when you need her?

Tom said...

Have you ever seen her and Gilligan in the same room?

A casual observer said...

Troll, why were you let down by the report? Just out of interest.

For me it was always going to be something of a disappointment.

If the Labour party are still afraid to use words such as "redistribution", through fear of alienating the majority of the press and middle-England voters, then they are never going to be brave enough to truly tackle the underlying roots of crime and poverty: the rich-poor divide and the widening wealth gap, which requires a proper rethink about levels of taxation and investment.

We do not truly live in a country where "anyone can make it". And if someone from a poor background, born on a harsh inner-city council estate, attending an ill-funded local school and dealing with the social pressures that come with those environments, does rise to become a top hedge-fund manager then they are an exception to the rule. Claims to the contrary are simply untrue and perpetuate the myths of laziness, which breeds resentment.

Only higher taxes and massive investment - redistribution - can tackle these problems. Everything else is a short term fix. You can "cut back on waste" and talk about "efficiency) all you like - it's never going to be enough.

(I'm ranting - Getting back to the point!)

However, on a positive note, I think today's political re-alignment - despite it being subtle - was interesting: Any suggestions of raising the top rate of income tax have been a no-go area for New Labour. At the very least I think it is good news that the party can finally talk about it again.

It's just a shame they can't explain to the public that we currently have one of the lowest top-rate tax levels in Europe!

Tom said...

Yes, that did strike me as odd - 'oh noes, all the bankers will go back to Europe because our tax rates go up to slightly below the tax rates back home!'.

The Troll said...

ACO - My initial thought was that it was redistribution without the distribution i.e they take from the rich, but do not give to the poor. On closer reading, there does seem to be some good things here, I just can't help but feel that it is all just too little too late.

The direction is the right one, although I do question why they have only decided to take it when things are looking bad for them. The important thing is to see how the Conservatives react to it over the coming months. Is their first concern going to be the welfare of the poorest or the future tax rates of the wealthiest. With them still narrow favourites to become the next government, it is that which I will be concentrating on.