Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Autumn Statement

Before the general election, in order to prepare for hustings, TV and radio interviews and questions from the public, I studied every Labour policy announcement between 2013 and 2015 in some detail. The policies were mostly sound, sensible ideas but were ignored or denounced as crazy, Marxist and extreme Left wing by the Conservatives.

Strange that much of Hammond's Autumn statement was the same Labour policy that was rejected in 2015. I welcome this massive U-turn.

There was however, some less welcome news: Yet more cuts to corporation tax for large companies, this policy didn't stimulate the economy on all the other previous occasions it was tried. Giving a few million quid to do up a mansion near Rotherham doesn't really count as infrastructure investment. Topped off with the sheer arrogance of failing to mention how to properly fund social care.

There was one announcement that is beyond parody and could have come straight off the script of Yes Minister or The Thick of It: They want to scrap the autumn statement and replace it with an autumn budget at the same time as scrapping the spring budget and replacing it with a spring statement. It's like fiddling with the deck chairs on the titanic while Rome burns.

The Tories were elected on the basis of their perceived competence at handling the public finances. After successive years of imposing austerity while failing to fulfil the promise of reducing the deficit, that perception may have changed today.

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