It was a Civil Service Led Budget

There is a fair amount of nonsense being talked about why Mr Hammond chose to produce such a crass budget. In particular, some of the madder politicians (on both sides of the Brexit debate) are suggesting that he was motivated by a desire to frustrate Brexit. Quite how producing a budget which was likely to infuriate so many Conservative supporters would be likely to muck up Brexit doesn’t seem to have been explained. Is it really suggested, for instance, that Mr Hammond decided to try to make the Tories as unpopular as possible so that Labour would be in with a chance of winning a snap election before the Brexit negotiations are complete? Of course that wasn’t what he was doing. Hammond, like Mrs May, is a loyalist to the Tory cause on an almost extreme level. Anyway, a great many of the Tory MPs who object to the budget are themselves convinced remainers.

No, the attack on the self-employed had absolutely nothing to do with Brexit. It came about because the Treasury’s senior civil servants despise all those frightfully common plumbers, painters and decorators, taxi drivers and small businessmen. And Mr Hammond didn’t have the political nous to understand that his own party’s supporters would be horrified by what his mandarins were proposing. They, with their gigantic salaries, entitlement to all sorts of benefits (maternity leave, paternity leave, sick pay, paid holidays, enormous pensions etc. etc.) really do think it appalling that plumbers earning vastly less than they do, and having none of those benefits, are not required to pay as much in National Insurance as they do.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this budget fiasco is the fact that Mrs May shared her Chancellor’s inability to spot that what his civil servants wanted him to do would be a major vote loser for her party. She is often compared to Margaret Thatcher. But of one thing we can be sure, Mrs Thatcher (though she got the poll tax wrong) would definitely have realised, instantly, that this attack on the self-employed would be disastrous for her party. Mrs May does have a lot to learn. We must hope that this appalling budget will be what the young call a “wake up call” for her.

Charles

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3 thoughts on “It was a Civil Service Led Budget

  1. Not a popular budget and I do hope Mrs May will listen to those in her party who agree. Whatever was Hammond thinking of? Not a good start at all, I do hope he gets the message.

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  2. All my working life in the UK (it was different overseas) I worked as a contract architectural/piping/civil etc draughtsman, self employed. It suited me perfectly. A significantly better hourly rate than the permos (who hated us for it), no office politics because we were short term, none of the permanent benefits but if I stayed healthy and didn’t fall out with too many agents I regularly earned more than my boss (who hated me for it). The regular changes of employment could be exhilarating, and the draughtsman themselves were pretty anarchic and great fun and if I didn’t enjoy working for that particular company I’d just walk away.

    After I stopped drinking I invested all my surplus earnings in a sensible share portfolio that today (thanks in part to the post Brexit market surge) has left me very comfortable indeed. It was remarkably easy, I’d be genuinely wealthy if I’d started ten years earlier.

    However if I were back in my thirties today, and having experienced over the years the relentless, almost annual whittling away of the self-employed tax breaks this budget would have driven me out, to one of anglophone nations (bar South Africa).

    May is a stupid woman. She is a ditherer and in some key areas she is an ignorant woman. and I believe with Brexit she is out of her depth. Hammond is equally stupid.

    This budget is vindictive. Thank god I am now retired.

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