Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Darling ushers in the hard decade

Maybe someone will write a piobaireachd -'Alistair Darling's welcome to the hard decade'. It will have to be a fast tune because these figures are headspinning - £1.26 trillion of debt over the next two years. I can't even imagine what that looks like let alone begin to hum it.

But somehow Alistair Darling's slow air, deadpan delivery of the PBR today makes it all that stored up pain palatable - that was the intention anyway.

Quote of the day has to go to Vince Cable , and not for the "bingo and boilers budget" quip. He nailed the whole PBR by pointing out that the increase on National Insurance won't even begin to touch the sides of the debt bucket .

"All of the money that is going to be raised in additional tax will now be spent (on) public spending," he said. "None of this increase in taxation is going to be used to pay down the borrowing requirement or the deficit, it is complete distortion of the priorities the Government should have."

The National Insurance increase will hit everyone earning more than £20k and take in several billion compared to the paltry amount to be raised on the bankers bonus tax (which they will only pay if their accountants aren't smart).

Public spending, some £14.6bn, will continue for at least another year to help the economy through the recession but then the "black hole", as George Osborne called it, of a public spending review.

That means deep cuts and it's going to hurt whoever wins. Meanwhile four million public sector workers will face a real terms pay cut for two years.. That too is storing up trouble with the unions - Unison says it is "just not on" - and the next government Tory or Labour won't find that an easy bomb to defuse.

Scotland? The most money flowing north since Antonine's Wall was built according to the Scotland Office with £23m more in Barnett consequentials. Robbing Scotland by not repeating accelerating capital spending says Stewart Hosie of the SNP. Take your pick. There are some good news items for Scotland, like support for the games industry for example.

The winners? If you're a pensioner in Partick who comes home from a bingo win to find that the boiler has broken tonight, well you'll be dancing a jig to Darling a' ghraidh.

I'm on an La, BBC Alba, Sky ch 168 at 8pm tonight turning all that into common sense Gaelic.

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