I'm a Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, so I've decided that this blog should do its bit. Its not often that I join a team assault, but here goes. There's but a few hours to go until Alistair Darling, the Prime Minister's proxy, delivers his Pre-Budget Report. After all the hype, I'm quite looking forward to it. The thing about being a blogger is that it makes me a commentator on politics, as well as a (sometimes partisan) participant. And I like having big issues to commentate on.
Now the first observation is that I'm very worried about our Prime Minister. I watched him on today's 'Politics Show', and I saw before my eyes a character in Dan Brown's techno-thriller, 'The Digital Fortress' made real. Commander Trevor Strathmore, Head of the NSA's Cryptography Department was a dedicated workaholic who had given his life to creating a gigantic, secret, devilishly complex code breaking machine - not unlike what I imagine a modern economy to be. Strathmore loved his country, and absolutely knew that both he and his machine were infallible. Nothing would distract him from his faith, his belief that he understood his machine like no other - even when it began wheezing unhealthily, heating uncontrollable and threatening destruction upon America. No risk was too great, because he believed. He deserved his success (and in Strathmore's case, the woman) because of his dedicated service. And the odd thing was that most expert opinion was conned into supported him - until the whole damn shooting match started to go up in flames.
Anyway, back to the prosaic. There's a lot of today's newsprint devoted to a possible cut in VAT tomorrow. Surely this is a red herring. A VAT cut will not make much difference, will not be all passed on, and delivers most of the benefit to the wealthiest sector of the nation, who may well not spend it. They'll be tempted to save it, so that they can pay the 'Tax Bombshell' that will follow in due course. No financial stimulus there. If a tax cut there is going to be, why not keep it simple and just raise allowances, taking low-earning taxpayers out of tax altogether - much more progressive, and more likely to be spent. I daresay there will be parts of tomorrow's package that I'll like though - and if I do I'll say so.
Gordon Brown does seem to have discovered a gambling gene, so anything is possible, but I still feel that tomorrow's PBR will turn out to have been over-hyped. I can see myself listening and thinking 'Is that It'? But lets assume its big, and we have tax cuts of say £30 billion. Fear of a run on Sterling means that we will have to be told how its going to be repaid, and when - which is where the 'Tax Bombshell' comes in. We are already seeing Government borrowing figures beyond anything we could ever have imagined. And another £30 billion on top. I fear for my children. Truth is that 'However much Gordon Brown wraps it up, it is still a Tax Bombshell'.