Thursday, April 23, 2009
To Lingfield Point yesterday lunchtime, where I was part of the panel on a post-Budget Northern Decision Makers special. You can see the full programme here.
The audience included a high proportion of members of the Institute of Directors, and the session was expertly chaired by local IoD chief Alistair Thompson. In a budget that the Telegraph felt heralded the return of "Class War", and in the midst of the most difficult economic conditions since WWII, it was always going to be a hard sell.
Graham and I did our usual turns for our respective parties, and there were thoughtful contributions from the 2 other panellists - John Orchard from Marchday (responsible for the fantastic Lingfield Point development), and Alan Cook from Arlington Financial in Hartlepool.
In truth, I was slightly disappointed that a question about the so-called 'class war' element of the Budget didn't turn up. It's surely right to ask those earning in excess of £150,000 to take their fair share of the burden the country is now facing - particularly those in the financial sector where executives have been pocketing huge bonuses during the good years, and now bear a fair amount of responsibility for the situation we now find ourselves in.
And it remains the case that 1% of our population earn 21% of the national wealth, and that's after 13 years of Labour Government. So the Jacobins are hardly at the gate. Even if I am now sounding like Tony Benn. You should see the chopping hand movements here.
The measure raises important revenue to help address the country's deficit. And what has been the Tories principal tax promise over the past 18 months? - giving £200,000 away to the richest 3,000 estates in the country via a loosening of Inheritance Tax.
The Tories opposed many of the measures in the Budget to help the people suffering most during the downturn - young people without work, for example, pensioners and homeowners facing repossession. The priorities of the country's two principal parties could not be clearer. Voters ahead of the next General Election should take note.