It would appear from yesterday’s UK budget, before my accountant gets through the smallprint, that Gordon Brown has decided one million small UK businesses hold just too many awkward voters to browbeat in one go. So he has only smacked us with a light tap rather than the full hammer of state retribution he was muttering about earlier in the month.
There is still a Section 660 court case, with a judgement due in June, where he may yet succeed in fully wrecking the small business sector, just as he managed to do recently with the UK film industry, and the IT contractor sector several years ago, with his IR35 measure, but I’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
What really puzzles me, however, is why whenever he deliberately introduces tax loopholes, to apparently encourage small businesses, instead of financial journalists just praising him in newspapers the damned small businesses actually take advantage of his faux largesse. Which means he has to get all moody and pompous before closing his own damned loopholes down again. And of course, if it is so wonderful to sack 40,000 civil servants, or should I say re-badge 40,000 rent-seeking deadbeats as outside agency staff, just why was it so wonderful to take them all on in the first place, at the rate of 500 anti-smoking awareness counsellors a week, for a full seven years?
And just to round off this triplet of Keynesian fact-changing stupidity, if everything is going so well with the British economy, just why is it the Red King of Scotland is borrowing so much? I know I could live off caviar and Krug champagne if I possessed the ability to make the British taxpayer pay off my credit card bills, but I would certainly avoid bragging about it if I was morally bankrupt enough to try it. Somebody, somewhere, is going to have to pay the piper at some point, even if some in the private sector are currently working overtime to supply the government with goods and services paid for with money borrowed off future taxpayers. This gives Gordon apparent economic growth without the tax revenues you would normally associate with such growth, which is why he is reaching for the overdraft facility like Craggy Island’s Father Jack would reach for the Black Bush whiskey after the end of Lent.
The difference between these two sons of the cloth is that Father Jack just gets drunk, whereas Gordon Brown gets drunk on the power of spending and wasting other people’s money.
In conclusion, there are two answers to my general doublethink questions above. Gordon Brown is either the cleverest man in the world. Or, as Eric Morecambe might have once put it, the man’s a fool.
I’ll spare you the trouble of asking you to guess the direction in which my own opinion lies.
BTW, for any wavering Gordon Brown worshippers reading this, who are beginning to suspect it might just be the Eric Morecambe option, if you want to know why it is all going so horribly wrong for New Labour, read the Murray Rothbard article entitled The Myth of Efficient Government Service, where the whole shooting match is revealed with Uncle Murray’s usual sure-footed conciseness and shattering clarity.