Yesterday's budget was a bit of a surprise really. With the current (and very welcome!) competition between the parties on who can be the most 'green' I expected more green taxes for one thing, yet the only real difference is a slight increase in fuel duty and a higher road tax for the most polluting vehicles, although the threshold for this is so high that it doesn't even cover most 4x4.
The move that surprised almost everyone was the 2p cut in the basic rate of income tax, although this came with the scrapping of the 10p band, so those on the lowest wages will actually pay more. Now I'm probably in the minority in thinking that we don't pay enough tax as it is, so I didn't want to see cuts to income tax. At least it wasn't to the higher rate payers I suppose. What was worse was the cut in corporation tax, although small companies now have to pay more. I hate these blatant bribes to big industry, so this move was pretty appalling. There were the predictable small increases to beer etc too of course (but spirits escape for some reason).
So anyway, where were the progressive moves? Where was the scrapping of car tax and big hike in petrol prices? Where was the duty on aircraft fuel? Where was some sort of sensible tax system on food miles? Or non-degradable packaging? Or incandescent light bulbs? What a wasted opportunity, and what's worse, this budget looked more Conservative than I would have expected from the Tories. I used to console myself that while we may have a Labour government it's probably better than a Tory one when it comes to wealth redistribution and the environment (we'll forget Iraq for a moment), but now I'm not so sure. What's the world coming to when you start wondering that if there can't be a liberal government, a Conservative one is the next best choice?