All entries for Wednesday 21 March 2007

March 21, 2007

Brown finishes with a Jobs

The Chancellor’s been watching Steve Jobs, the maverick boss of Apple. In his final budget, Brown saved the big news until the end, just as Jobs always does – a 2p cut in the basic rate of income tax. It’s not a new iPod, but the iPod generation will be happy…

...until they see the small print. Less trumpeted was the scrapping of the lower rate of income tax at 10p. So the cut in the basic rate of income tax will be almost ‘revenue neutral’. Put in laymans terms, the BBC reckon Brown will get £8bn more by cutting the lower rate, but lose £9.5bn by reducing the basic rate. The £1.5bn will probably be made up partly through a rise in small business tax – sure to be controversial – and by selling more government buildings and the student loans, both short-term gains.

I still don’t understand why tax on beer and wine goes up by 1p per pint or 5p per bottle, yet spirits – which surely contribute to anti-social behaviour as much as beer – is frozen. Measures on the environment will be welcomed, but are hardly radical. The inheritance tax threshold went up to £350,000 (by 2010), by which time many houses will cost that much.

It was a big-headline budget, but beneath the surface, Brown did little more than tinker at the margins. As Menzies Campbell said, it was a budget of a man ready to move on.


Chancellor Doidge's Budget, 2007 Edition

Last year, your prudent Chancellor unveiled his measures to make Britain economically strong and ethically sound. This year, he shall repeat the exercise bearing in mind the strong likelihood that he will take over the reins of the sinking ship from Tony Blair in the coming months.

Last year, I began with a shameless attack upon the poor. That’s right. “Multi Stamp Duty”. The more houses you own, the more you pay in tax when you buy another one. Anyone buying a second home would pay 5% stamp duty, while anyone buying a third home (greedy buggeers) would pay 10%. Well this year Chancellor Doidge will scrap stamp duty altogether for people buying their first home (down from 1%). This undoubtedly popular move will come into effect as soon as possible, pissing off the rich no-end.

Talking of which, 4×4s. Last year I linked car tax to your MOT test. The more miles you do, the more you pay. If your car is a ‘big-emitter’, you currently pay (in Doidgeland) £100 if you do over 2,500 miles per year. Well I’m going to add a top-rate of £250 per year if you do over 10,000 miles per year. That’ll catch the estate agents in their Mondeos. Because no-one likes them anyway.

I’m not planning to tinker much with my simple tax rates that I imposed last year:

People earning between £15k – £30k pay 25% tax
People earning between £30k – £50k pay 35% tax and
People earning over £50k tax pay 45% tax.

But I’m going to launch a consultation on charging an extra 5% on anyone earning over £1m per year (in City bonuses presumably). We rely on the City of London for a huge amount of our income, but I don’t think charging the highest earners will really result in an exodus of executives to Luxembourg. And even if it does, at least house prices will fall.

And so to house prices. They’re clearly not starting to fall, and they’re not about to crash either. So along with the Department for Communities and Local Government, I can announce that by 2010, 20% of all new homes in Britain must be three storeys tall. In theory, this will mean less land is used, and we can build the millions of homes we need without encroaching too much on the green belt. I’m also sending every house a brick to put in their toilet. Less water used, you see.

Another thing about new homes that disappoints me is the small amount of garden space. True, this is slightly contradictory with what I just said, but I want to make sure there are plenty of green spaces in residential areas. Many local councils have a policy of ‘filling-in’ spaces between homes rather than building new housing estates. I think those spaces are a commodity in themselves and am launching a new national ‘green spaces’ fund to buy them from private landowners and turn them into community spaces, rather than squash more houses into them. Also, any new housing estate will have to have some arbitrary amount of shared green space per dwelling. Let’s say 20m2 per house.

Last year I scrapped BBC Three. The BBC ignored me, and put Anthea Turner on, just to inflame my bowels even more. In revenge, I’m taking BBC Two Wales off them as well. They’re filling it with programmes about Welshness – see here. BBC Two Wales will be replaced on Satellite (and moved onto Freeview too) with a sports channel. I’m still working on BBC Three, and fully intend for it to become a channel full of quality U.S. imports. I’m still planning to use the analogue TV signals for free-to-air High Definition, too.

In the world of journalism (for which I have what you might call a soft-spot), I intend to ban the Daily Mail and Daily Express. Democracy? Pah. They’d both rather have a monarch run the country on a daily basis, especially if they could get Diana back to do it. Fox News is also getting kicked off Sky. There are already rules about impartiality in the UK. It applies to Fox just as it does to Sky News, and yet we’ve done nothing about it.

I’ll sweeten the blow of losing BBC Wales by building a railway from north to south Wales. It takes ages to get there at the moment, and it’s silly. I’ll also build a decent railway from Cardiff to its airport, which is miles away and useless.

Last year I promised you I would introduce two things in 2007. I lied. I’m still going to give you free childcare by paying nurseries directly, but I’m not going to put Fathers 4 Justice into community service. Instead I’m sending them to Afghanistan. They can breach security like no-one else, so hopefully they can infiltrate Al-Qaeda too, and find Bin Laden for me.

As I’m about to take over the government, I thought I’d announce a few things I’m planning to do when Tony goes on his lecture tour. Firstly, I’m going to revoke his passport. Secondly I’m going to take out a banning order on his – and Alastair Campbell’s – memoirs. And finally I’m going to rent out his expensive new homes (incl. flats in Bristol) to poor people. It’s all for his own good. I saw that Channel 4 drama about ‘The Trial of Tony Blair’ and I reckon if he leaves the country we’ll forget about him pretty quickly.

I’m going to pull troops out of Iraq. Sorry, George. They’d be of more use in Zimbabwe, but we can’t do that because we’re not black and we’d look like the imperial aggressors that we, er… are. I’ll send half of them to Afghanistan because that’s a war worth winning, even just to kill the opium trade once and for all. And the rest I’ll retrain as rapid-response peacekeepers, like the S.A.S., but with incense sticks rather than AK-47s.

And finally I’m planning to invade Australia. I like the Aussies, I really do. But they’ve got a lot of unused land. And we have a lot of asylum seekers. I don’t think we should send them back to where they came from, because there’s usually a good reason they left. But with a few water pipes and a few traps for the snakes, I think we can make the bush hospitable. And with a few years’ climate change, we might even be able to grow strawberries out there!

And so, I present my final budget. It’s full of holes, but I don’t care. Someone else can come into the Treasury and clear it up. I’m moving on to new pastures. Well, next door, at least. It’s been an exciting ten years. I’ve cured world poverty, kept Blair and Bono in jobs, and only screwed up the universities, trains, hospitals and schools. Not bad. Now I can move to Number 10, fix it all, and say 1997 – 2007 was all his fault.


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