Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Sun's take on the pre-budget report.

If you want an indication of how stupid the Sun imagines its readers are, then you could do worse than see them again turning to Thunderbirds in order to explain the economics of yesterday's pre-budget report, capitals and bold used throughout.

We're not especially interested in that though, more in whether the PBR has shifted the Sun further from its embrace of New Labour towards the Conservatives, as has seemed evident since their praise for David Cameron's piss-poor conference speech.

Their leader, headlined the "death of New Labour", is perhaps not as critical as you may have expected:

"BRITAIN is apparently so close to meltdown that the nation must be plunged deeper into the red to avoid catastrophe.

Gordon Brown says it is not his fault that we are worst placed in the Western world to weather this storm.

We must blame America’s chaotic mortgage crisis — not our own overblown housing bubble or badly-run banks.

And it will take seven bitter years before we get our heads above water again.

But the Prime Minister cannot wash his hands of responsibility like that.

Yes, the whole world is suffering.

But Britain’s special weakness is, at least in part, down to Labour’s reckless 12-year spending spree on bloated and inefficient public services.


But make no mistake. It marked the death of New Labour.

In one emergency splurge, a beaming Mr Brown reverted to Old Labour’s natural big government tendency to big government tax, spend and borrow.

The clue is in the tax changes.

All the CUTS are temporary.

All the RISES are permanent.

Britain is once again a high tax economy. VAT will shoot back to 17.5 per cent after 13 months, with sharp hikes in petrol, booze and cigarette prices.

But the new 45p rate for high earners will remain — if Labour stays in power.

In hard times, few would argue against the wealthy paying their whack.

But who would bet this new rate, welcomed ecstatically by Labour MPs, will stay at 45p.

We are back on the slippery slope to the 1970s.

Other changes, including higher National Insurance and personal allowances, will hurt low and middle earners — and small business.

Yesterday, we saw the battle lines drawn for the next election.

If Gordon Brown succeeds he may well lead Labour to a fourth term.

If he fails — as Shadow Chancellor George Osborne warned — he will have mortgaged our future in an unforgivably reckless Budget.

It's not the job of the Sun to offer alternatives, but it's instructive here to note that it doesn't suggest a single different policy to the ones which Labour are pursuing. The Tories too, only get the one reference, and that's to George Osborne, who also offered few alternatives yesterday. If this truly is the death of New Labour, and that they have had to, out of desperation raise income tax, isn't really indicative of the party being over, then the Sun isn't as upset as you might expect it to be. Our bailouts, likewise, are small beer compared to those in the US, Rupert Murdoch's adopted home, where another $800bn has just been announced by the Fed, nearly 2 months before Barack Obama gets to the White House to introduce his own stimulus. For all the meetings and sucking up towards Cameron, Murdoch will doubtless expect him to come up with some sort of plan before he puts all of his eggs firmly in one basket. New Labour isn't yet dead, and neither is the pact the party has had with the Sun.