This Budget failed on its own terms. The Prime Minister promised us a Halloween treat but it was just another trick. Austerity will continue to fall on our teachers, firefighters and police. Government departments and local authorities will shrink ever smaller. The 14million people now battling poverty will be hit with billions more in social security cuts.
The government knows it is unable to get this Budget of broken promises through parliament, so they have evoked an archaic rule that prevents us - the Opposition - from amending their Budget legislation. One of many measures they have introduced to rig parliament in their favour. I can only imagine the response if Labour had been so blasé about the UK’s constitution.
Faced with no means of changing its contents, we will vote against the government’s Budget bill, which does nothing to deliver a more just society built on the aspirations of the many, not just a privileged few.
Despite this some want us to try to single out, and prevent, the threshold changes the government is introducing in this Budget. It was wrong for the government to bring forward the raising of the high rate threshold while failing to end the benefit freeze. However in the context of this Budget we won’t oppose the income tax threshold rises because they are one of the few measures that give additional income to the low and middle income earners.
The fact is that eight years of austerity have ripped through our society, driving in work poverty and inequality, and further entrenching the economic crisis caused by the financial sector. In this context, we will not stand in the way of more income for low and middle earners, regardless of how it comes about.
Instead we will devote our energy in fighting for radical reforms of our entire taxation system, reforms which shift the emphasis on to those best able to afford it, while guaranteeing no increases of tax on anyone earning less than £80,000.
Labour see no point in penalising low and middle earners, instead we must concentrate our efforts on ensuring a fair tax system. That’s the bigger issue.
We will fight the Tories to introduce a more progressive taxation system every step of the way, in spite of their rigging of parliament. And will ensure that the top 5% contribute more, to build a society for the many not the few.
Peter Dowd is the Labour MP for Bootle and Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury