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Anorak | Gulps & Phews

Gulps & Phews

by | 23rd, March 2006

‘IN keeping with Chancellor Gordon Brown’s idiosyncratic-style of speech – that guppy-like gasping for air makes it look like even he has trouble swallowing his own argument – the Budget was delivered in a series of Gulps! for the painful bits (yet more tax) and Phews! for the rest (a freeze on the duty on fizzy wine).

‘Just fill it with fivers and nobody gets hurt’

And let us not forget the other bits. Let’s call them the Ers. There were lots of Ers…, those parts too few of us really understand (monetary policy).

And don’t suppose for a moment all MPs find this fiscal stuff interesting. When Brown began his address with a comment on economic growth, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott smiled wryly and mouthed “wow”. Knowing what we do about fist-talking Prezza, his appraisal of the Chancellor’s figures on economic growth suggested he too was a little un-wowed by the killer stats. Prezza can do irony. Wow.

What Prezza cannot do is take an enlivening drink as Brown gasps and gapes for 61 minutes. Tradition dictates that the Chancellor and no-one else can quaff alcoholic refreshment during the Budget speech. Not that Brown took a restorative dram – he sips natural mineral water (Scottish, colorless and unsparkling – very in keeping with the man).

Of course, Brown is far from boring. He is merely prudent and misunderstood. This was a political Budget to support his claim for the top job and lay out his ten-year plan. This Budget was not for today; not for tomorrow; but for the next election. Raise a glass of flat wine (up 4p a bottle) to the future – yours, Tony’s and Gordon’s.

Gordon is the steady hand. During his ten years, as he said in the opening minutes of his address, he has survived rapid house price inflation, the Asian crisis, the IT bubble, Tony’s guitar playing and Cherie’s singing. He’s just the man to foster a “culture of stability” in a dangerous and unpredictable world. A neutral Budget was the thing. And Brown delivered one in glorious beige.

Looking at the details, there is a lot of stuff about tax credits (hands up if any of you mums, dads and children know what that they mean and how they work).

There’s the green initiative to tax those big 4x4s. Brown, the guardian of our children’s futures, will save the planet by taxing mum as she drives her Chelsea tractor up to the school gates and, if she uses the car’s full guts, over them.

If by happy coincidence Brown can tap these wealthy drivers for a few more quid to stuff inside the Treasury coffers, then so much the better. It could be a nice little earner for the Treasury – 187,000 4x4s were sold in the UK last year alone.

Forget the damage to the environment caused by air travel. The Chancellor did. The Guardian reports that a typical flight of under 500km releases 0.17 kg of carbon per passenger per kilometre compared with 0.14 kg/km by car, 0.052 kg/km for rail and 0.047 kg/km by ferry.

Figures for cruise ships and meals on wheels trolleys are not provided, but it is believed they are less polluting than buses, those things Brown says all pensioners and the disabled can travel on for free at off-peak times.

Better yet if the old dears walk and the disabled move as best they can. This way they can help improve Britain’s sporting chances at the 2012 London Olympics, something Brown is keen to do.

No need to mention the NHS (Brown didn’t) when we are all getting faster and fitter. Perhaps the gold medals we will earn at the 2012 Olympics will help balance the Chancellor’s books?

Not that Brown will be Chancellor in 2012. Although it would be less than a wow if he was…’



Posted: 23rd, March 2006 | In: Reviews Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink