It struck me that the Chancellor - every chancellor, I guess - must be pretty heartless when it comes to announcing a budget. No matter who he tries to please, there are always people on the other side of the fence who feel they got a raw deal.
And so it was with the so-called ‘granny tax’, which wasn’t really a tax at all but the Red Tops didn’t focus too much on such details. What mattered to them was that ‘’little old ladies” were being screwed out of their hard earned cash while the fat cats in Downing Street retired to their subsidised bar for a snifter. And that sells papers.
Talking of bars, the licensed trade were incandescent with rage that Duty was sneaked in under the rather misleading statement of ‘no changes to duty rates’ when in fact it meant the 2%-above-inflation calculator would still apply from previous years. In real terms that means an additional 9p on the pint while the punter paying for it thinks there was no increase at all.
The problem with all this wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth at such injustice is that we can’t make a difference. Yes we can vote in a new government, who will happily provide more of the same. Or perhaps we can lobby for some changes, but this only moves the burden elsewhere. Perhaps we can start a movement...
But wait. Before the Chancellor can even begin to worry about such a backlash, he is given a massive get-out-of-jail-free card from the general public as a result of one frenzied night of overwhelming generosity. I am of course talking about Sport Relief and the amazing achievement of raising £50M during a frantic night of charity broadcasting.
The worst thing that could have happened from Mr. Osborne’s perspective, would have been if Sport Relief had had a dismal disaster with worse-than-ever results to report on the night. Mr. Osborne would have woken up to headlines screaming their vindication that the economy was not working and that heads should roll.
Alas that didn’t happen. In typical British form, we accept our lot, count our blessings by giving a little to charity and begrudgingly pay that little extra for our hard-earned pint down the pub.
Who can blame the Chancellor’s heartlessness, when the great British public has more than enough heart to go around?