Thursday, 9 March 2017

Strong enough for you?

“Tax cuts for the rich!” goes the familiar refrain. It is Labour’s only response to a budget that had to be. It has been their response to every budget that has not been their own. What would Labour do, then? Why, they would create a workers utopia where everybody wins. All of which makes it decidedly odd that they never thought to do this during their thirteen years in government. Possibly their last period of power for a generation because apart from a few diehards and a clutch of young fools, people aren’t buying it any more.

“But Labour cares!” they insist, not like those nasty Tories... who you voted for... again. (Isn’t it curious how, whenever the left loses the argument, the voters didn’t know what they were voting for?) Of course the caring answer is to take even more of people’s hard-earned cash and give it to others who haven’t worked as hard. When leftist governments are broke it’s the workers they come for, every time, despite their rhetoric in opposition. Capitalists are evil until the socialists want their money and the most accessible capitalists are ordinary people, trying to get on in life; the fat cats they like to demonise are usually well out of reach.

As for the ‘attack on working people’ portrayed in the popular press, the increase in National Insurance contributions for the self-employed to near-parity with the rest of us is practicably the embodiment of the very fairness principle which Labour claim to espouse. Anyway, given that a huge proportion of the self-employed – I’ve been there – ‘forget’ to declare every scrap of income and over-claim business expenses as a matter of course, any actual rise will be absorbed by the normal process of ‘adjusting’ accounts to suit how much tax they want to pay. To insist otherwise is wilful blindness to reality.

Throughout my life I have been bemused by the newspaper treatment of budgets. I have never known a gasp-inducing, life or death budget; most people shrug, assume it will make them slightly worse off, then carry on keeping their own treadmills turning. But see the press and the words ‘fury’ and ‘unleashed’ and ‘cruel’ and ‘heartless’ are liberally sprinkled throughout the tabloids with only slightly more sober reportage employed in the serious papers. Most of the people, most of the time, don’t run their lives on the basis of being a few quid – and it is a few - up or down over the course of a year. Cumulatively, yes, there may be a gradual increase in tax take from NI as more people go self-employed, but individually, meh... 

What is far more important it how the government approaches Brexit and beyond and there are far more serious issues than the pound in your pocket. If we can get past the negativity of the persistent talking down of our prospects by remainers-in-denial it should be possible to imagine a positive future which is entirely within our control. Trade will sort itself out – profit-seekers always find a way – what is more important is how we use the ability to govern ourselves again. Post-Brexit, we really can become stronger, in more ways than money.

Strong enough to care properly for our genuinely weak and sick and elderly. Strong enough to resist the mindless pull of ever greater diversity. Strong enough to tolerate the multiculturalism we already have, but also to tame it; turn it British and dial down the ‘vibrancy’. Strong enough to reform education by selecting and improving and giving youngsters the tools to flourish. Strong enough to properly punish crime but offer genuine redemption and rehabilitation.

Time to crack on with it...

Labour doesn’t want any of this, no matter what they say; without dissent they have no purpose. In a day or two the budget will be forgotten, as it always is, by the vast majority of the population. It’s really not that important; we have far greater challenges ahead and it is about time we got on with tackling them. 

1 comment:

  1. For once I disagree. The casual assumption that all the self employed are on the fiddle is a bit of an insult (I was self employed for nearly 30 years) and never fiddled. I accepted that I was not eligible for various benefits that the employed have. It was worth it for the freedom of being one's own boss. And this is a clear breach of a manifesto commitment. We've already seen this with turning the pledge on the referendum into an advisory opinion poll. Nick Clegg paid a heavy price for reneging on tuition fees. I think the Tories might do the same. The self employed are naturally inclined towards UKIP.