This week’s phony UK budget may have been politically expedient and mostly harmless, but it didn’t make it any easier to decide who to vote for.
No wonder the polls predict a hung Parliament – this is voting by elimination, a real-life version of Hangman.
Starting with the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable grasped what was going in the crisis early and deserves some praise, but the rest of his party put the moan into sanctimonious.
The worst thing that could happen to the Liberals would be power-sharing with Labour or the Tories. The party would split as it was forced to make its first real ‘hard decision’ for nearly 30 years, and those remaining would find nothing corrupts wishful thinking like the burden of power.
I have some time for Labour’s Alistair Darling, who’s been given the job of mending the cathedral roof via a parish church whip round. He’s been what passes for honest in politics, and he hasn’t succumbed to the very worst impulses of his party.
That said, I do wonder if these now defiantly middle class would-be do-gooders would ever squeeze the middle classes ’til they squeaked. Higher taxes would so interfere with the school fees and the Umbrian wreck renovation fund, yeah?
Given how Labour MPs have flipped houses and a finger up at the electorate, they’re the very definition of the self-interested bourgeoisie that so appalled their forefathers. (And yes, it takes a member of the self-interested bourgeoisie to know one…)
That leaves the Tories, and like anybody who can use a calculator and heard Gordon Brown boom “No more boom and bust!” shortly before the biggest bust for 70 years, in principle I’d like them to get in and get the chainsaw out.
But Cameron and Osbourne, they’re not really working for me. What’s the big idea? Where’s the Thatcherite genius for turning painful requirements into a transforming national mission?
Cameron plays into the hands of the inverse class snobs, by cooing softly about cuts like the Fast Show’s lovestruck country squire telling his tenant farmer Fred there will be less barley from the lower fields this year. If we must be governed by the born to rule brigade, at least let’s have Shakespeare’s Henry V, not the distracted bumblers of Blackadder Goes Fourth.
Indeed, my post of the week comes from the pen of Caitlan Moran writing about Osbourne and Cameron in The Times (we may as well take advantage while it’s still free!)
You can imagine early Victorian explorers discovering a Pacific island full of huge, delicious, hapless George Osbornes and clubbing them into extinction in three months flat.
She used a Blackadder reference, too. I must try harder – and so must Osborne.
Here’s three roundups of the UK budget in detail:
And here’s a few tidbits the papers have skipped over that may interest Monevator readers:
- Putting AIM shares into ISAs – the Government is consulting on the anomaly that means you currently can’t.
- ISAs allowances will go up by RPI inflation as measured every September, but increases will be rounded to the nearest £120 to ease the maths.
- The inheritance tax threshold has been frozen for four more years.
- The new £1 million plus stamp duty band doesn’t come into force for a year.
Some interesting posts from the money blogs
- Value averaging: A new automated strategy – Money Help for Christians
- Splitting hairs is counter-productive – Darwin’s Finance
- Broadening the concept of return on investment – Consumerism Commentary
- Davis Vs Johnson: Battle of the cleaners – iii blog
- How to stop spending money – LeanLifeCoach writing at Wealth Pilgrim
- Insuring the uninsured is worth it – Financial Samurai
- The public trusts bloggers more than advisers – Stock Tickle
- The cons of child insurance – Amateur Asset Allocator
- Personal pantry challenge – MoneyFunk
A few other financial articles worth a look
- The British Economy: No basket case – The Economist
- Farm shop EIS ripe for cultivation – FT
- [Old] America: A nation of givers – The American (via Investor Junkie)
- Ten ways to beat the stealth taxes – The Telegraph
- Japan: Land of the rising fund – The Independent
- US car sales – a very V-shaped recovery – Business Insider
- Three New Tax Year Resolutions – The Motley Fool
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