Tuesday,19th March, 2013
Tomorrow is Budget day, which is the most beastly day of the year for me. I have to stand there – for at least an hour – in front of a packed House of Commons with many television cameras and horrible journalists, pretending that I know how to get the economy cranked up again. Crikey.
Anyway, I came up with a whizzo plan, especially as there isn’t any money in the kitty to play with. I’m going to pretend that I’ve listened to all those interest groups that keep bothering me by throwing a little crumb of comfort to each and every one of them. So, I’ll take a percent off corporation tax for big companies and if tiddly companies take on another bod, they won’t have to pay £2,000 of National Insurance for the pleasure. Note to self: if a couple of thousand quid makes that much difference, then surely the business is in dire straits anyway?
What else? Well, I can keep the floundering pub industry quiet for a while by adjusting the tax on a pint. Then there is the London Stock Exchange – they’ve been bleating on for years about removing stamp duty from buying shares. I can show how much I like small companies by removing stamp duty from that funny little market called AIM. Another note to self: must ask Mr Rolet why he thinks 0.5 per cent makes such a difference when the market makers operate on at least a five per cent spread between buying and selling shares to me.
I must not forget that we are running out of energy, so I had better give away some tax breaks to the fracking (think that is the right word) industry. I only hope they find somewhere to drill in our little island without bringing the house down.
Talking of houses, here’s my biggest idea! I’m going to give just about everyone who wants to buy one a 20 per cent interest free loan and a chance to get a 95 per cent mortgage on a new place to live. Wow, that should really light a fire under our dear old house market! What could possibly go wrong? After all, where I live in London, house prices always go up! So, why shouldn’t that be so everywhere else, from Leatherhead to Leith?
Well, that’s all the moaning minnies dealt with, but what to do about us having to borrow and print more money? My plan is to tell that new Canadian chappie at the Bank of England to stop sending me – for the umpteenth time – another letter explaining why inflation is more than the two per cent target. Instead, we could get him to assure us that one day we will get back to only a little inflation but just don’t quite know when.
I’ve now been agonising for ages how to capture, in one pithy phrase, the spirit of my Budget. Luckily, David has got this clever new Aussie friend called Lynton Crosby and he’s come up with “Aspiration Nation”. I told Lynton that it felt more like “constipation nation” to me but he said, “don’t worry George, we’ve got quantitative easing to take care of that.”
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