Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Squeezing the rich ?

Sometimes it’s not what you say – it’s what people think you say – and their reactions.

Back in the 70’s Labour Chancellor Dennis Healy talked about ‘squeezing the rich until the pips bleed”. He didn’t really mean it of course – he might have started life as a Communist but by 1974 he had put all that way behind him – but his words were enough to get the Tories and big business running scared that class war had been declared.

Alistair Darling’s no socialist either. Actually fuck knows what he is – at least Healy was an honest social democrat (sort of). But Darling's pre budget report seems to have pissed off a lot of the right people. All it took was a teeny-weeny attempt to tinker with a regressive tax (VAT) and to introduce a teeny-weeny bit of progressive taxation in the form of a higher income tax band for high earners.

Polly Toynbee sees in this a radical departure and an abandonment of the New Labour project in favour of good old-fashioned social-democracy. It's no such thing, it's a half-hearted Keynesian measure to stimulate retail spending. Measures that would actually make a difference to people’s lives – like a cap on fuel bills are conspicuous by their absence.

But what’s significant is not what comes from New Labour but from the Tories.

Cameron’s compassionate conservatism and eco-populism is not worth a toss. Faced with the most nonthreatening of measures, their reflex reaction is to defend the interests of the wealthy and begrudge any meagre concessions to the working class.

Same old Tories. Same old (New) Labour.

1 comment:

Leftwing Criminologist said...

i think you've summed up what the pre-budget report means quite well