Budget triumphalism is fooling few

GEORGE Osborne has delivered his sixth and hopefully his last budget and it has been horribly predictable, with tax cuts for the rich — even raising the personal allowance to £10,600 has a bigger impact on the tax bills of the very wealthy than the poor. But no cuts in VAT that really would help the poor.

There will be cuts in stamp duty for those buying and selling houses and help for the wealthy few young people who can even contemplate trying to buy their own home. This will make house prices rise even faster, stoking the billowing housing bubble which has to burst sometime and will be a time-bomb under the next government in Westminster. In the meantime the speculators and landlords will continue to feast at the trough at the expense of people who need somewhere affordable to live.

The enclosure acts are running again with a promise of a “Domesday Book” of “surplus public land” that can be privatised.

As the Tories have just signed two huge privatisation deals affecting the NHS Osborne has declared that next year he expects the NHS to make £12 billion in “efficiency savings”. Will this be more real cuts in health workers’ pay? Cuts in ancillary jobs? Rationing healthcare? The NHS is creaking now. These cuts are going to hurt. Will a Labour government reverse them? We must fight to make sure it does.

Another £12 billion will be cut from the benefits bill. This will really hurt. Already claimants are having their benefits sanctioned almost on a lottery basis because there is not enough for all who are genuinely entitled. In future will be see claimants forced to draw lots against each other to see who is lucky enough to eat this week? Jokes apart, this measure will kill vulnerable people. Food banks are going to be even busier.

While most departments in Whitehall are faced with coping with even more cuts in their budgets the security services are to get an extra £66 million “to protect us from terrorists”. Already they are monitoring the electronic communications of thousands of millions and have a list of “potential terrorists” so big they can only make blind guesses as to which ones will actually do anything.

In the mean time they harass the “domestic extremists” — the open political activists because they are easy to find.

Osborne boasted over the current state of the economy with falling unemployment without mentioning the huge proportion of workers now forces to take part-time or zero-hours work. Currently 1.4 million workers are on zero hours contracts, not knowing from one week to the next how many hours work they will get or how much pay — and of course no paid holidays or sick leave.

He did not mention his failure to eliminate the budget deficit by the end of this parliament, nor that he has accrued a bigger debt in five years that the previous Labour government did in 15 years. He did not mention the one million people now forced to use food banks.

He did throw in a few crumbs for the workers: a small cut in the price of beer and cider but this will fool no one; certainly not those who are struggling to survive, never mind live a decent life with rest and recreation.

Labour leader Ed Miliband accused Osborne of failing working families: “After five long years and six budgets the Chancellor now comes to the House and talks about the need for a truly national recovery. And no wonder, because five years of his plan have failed to build that recovery. And failed the working families of Britain.”

Miliband, if he really stood up for working class families, should have no trouble in winning a landslide victory against this Tory mess. But the Labour leadership, like the Democrats in America, spends most of its time bending over backwards to appease reactionaries who will never vote for it anyway and totally ignores the class that created the Labour Party to defend it from voracious predators like Osborne.

We must refuse to be ignored.