Brexit · Budget 2017 · Overseas aid

Budget disgrace. Cut aid now.

When the Conservatives won a majority in the 2015 election, many Tory voters believed that they would at long last see some genuine conservative policies being implemented – like lower taxes and cuts in public spending.   Having thrown off the millstone of having to share government with the awful  LibDems, now Cameron and Osborne could show their true colours.  Or so we thought.

Instead, we reacted in disbelief as George Osborne inflicted more pain (and damage) on natural conservative supporters than even Gordon Brown had managed when he was chancellor.

Policy after policy that could have come straight from the socialist handbook spewed out of No.11 while Osborne held the role.  Huge rises in stamp duty, attacks on by-to-let landlords (with mortgages), huge cuts in pension relief for higher earners, a continuation of refusing to allow higher earners a tax-free allowance.  Even his changes to inheritance tax reeked of clumsy social engineering.  The extra inheritance tax relief was only available on the value of the family home (only up to a certain value) and only to direct descendants.

With Osborne mercifully gone, Philip Hammond had a golden opportunity to break with his predecessors’ nonsense and do what conservative chancellors are supposed to do – support the hard-working citizen, encourage achievement and thrift, whilst avoiding profligacy in the public sector.

Instead, under the guise of that old chestnut “fairness” he’s hiked taxes again – this time on the self-employed.

Whenever politicians ask for “fairness” it usually means that a group of people are about to be fleeced with higher taxes, most of which are anything but fair.

Of course the national debt is horrendous and the budget deficit unsustainable.  But why is the Government raising taxes on the thrifty when it has such an obvious means of saving billions staring it right in the face?

Overseas aid – time for a rethink

The solution of course is simple: take an axe to the ridiculous overseas aid budget.

Quite why, when the country is borrowing a billion pounds a week, we are still sloshing over £12 billion away in overseas aid is a total mystery to the vast majority of the electorate.  And this sum is set to rise even further as the economy grows.  Never mind that policing and prisons are in crisis, social care and healthcare continue to be a nightmare for many, our armed forces are emaciated by years of cuts and our transport infrastructure creaks along.  Don’t even mention housing….

There is a saying that charity begins at home.  So it does.  Of all the crazy Osborne legacy policies that litter the statute book,  the commitment to spend these vast sums on overseas aid is the most stupid of them all.   It’s pure insanity to ring-fence the aid budget and target an increase in expenditure for its own sake, rather than looking at the merits of what the money is to be spent on.

What is even more puzzling is that there are no votes in overseas aid.  The only people who think it is a good idea won’t vote Tory anyway.

The Government has been rightly criticised for breaking a manifesto pledge not to raise national insurance.  But there’s one manifesto pledge which 90% of the country would be delighted to see broken – the commitment to overseas aid spending.  Come on Theresa, you know it makes sense.

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