Comment: Mixed Budget but Coalition need to stop blaming Labour and take responsibility for own actions

Comment by Ross McLean

The dust is settling on Chancellor George Osborne’s latest economic statement, which he described as ‘a budget for our aspiring nation’.

The Prime Minister and his fellow Eton comrades on the Tory frontbench have come under fire in recent months for an increasingly bleak economic outlook and muddled political thinking.

And after last year’s ‘omni-shambles’ Budget and the wink being tipped that growth forecasts would be downgraded, Government-followers were in desperate need of good news.

The Coalition Government – dubbed the ConDems in some circles – was always going to be a marriage of convenience and backbenchers are growing increasingly impatient.

And as Tony Blair once famously said it really is impossible to please all of the people, all of the time.

However, on days like this, MPs – irrespective of grievances – tend to revert to type and adopt a partisan attitude.

Even in the darkest days of any forlorn Government, budgetary announcements – however bleak – are likely to be met with forced approval and much bluster.

On the face of it, Budget 2013 – described as a neutral budget – does offer some hope to an increasingly despondent and irritable nation.

But below the surface do many of the announcements really have a tangible benefit to the masses of people up against rising living costs and political frustration?

Only time will tell.

The proud nation of Britain has been sailing through fiscal turbulence ever since the credit crunch hit in August 2007, with words like recession and quantitative easing becoming the norm.

But even now, three years after the Tories failed to secure a resounding vote of confidence in the 2010 General Election, the same lines about the previous Government are used.

In politics the nature of the beast is if it happens on your watch, the Government of the day has to take some responsibility and is in part culpable.

The country has seen its longest period of economic stagnation in the last century and lately the UK has lost its triple A credit rating and unemployment has increased to 2.5 million.

Yet the Government continues to stick to its central plan to cut the deficit and blame the previous Labour Government for the situation it inherited.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was dragged over the coals for claiming in 1997 the country would not return to boom and bust under New Labour.

In last year’s Budget statement, George Osborne claimed there would be no double-dip recession, and he too was wrong.

The Government has to take responsibility for its actions three years into a mixed reign, rather than thatch around and blame anyone and anything.

The weather and the Royal Wedding have been cited for a flagging economy, with a Chancellor showing complacency as hard-working people struggle to make ends meet.

Since 2010, the official opposition has urged the Coalition Government and the Chancellor to change course and not cut too deep, too fast.

Ed Miliband claimed the test for the Budget was whether it delivers bold action to kick-start a flat-lining economy and tax cuts for middle and low-income families.

Undoubtedly, as with all Budgets, there are some positive measures for the British public but are the cracks simply being papered over?

Help for small businesses, a rise in the personal tax allowance, scrapping of fuel duty increases, and a stimulus to house-building all sound fair policies.

But is there sufficient positivity to dispel the view this Budget takes as much as it gives, that Peter is being robbed to pay Paul?

Is there enough to relieve the feeling of wading through treacle, which the vast majority of this country’s hard-working population feel?

Only the future holds the answer but it is Britain’s future at risk.

Please note: Opinions expressed above are those of the journalist and do not necessarily represent the views of Mancunian Matters.

Picture courtesy of HM Treasury, via Flickr, with thanks

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