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Tuesday 21 April 2009

Budget, Darling?

They always used to be in March, as I remember, but this year the Budget has had to wait until April. Much has already been trailed – that wouldn’t have pleased Clem Attlee – but here’s some entirely personal thoughts.

Where can we save money? Well, sorry Jacqui, but I D Cards are a complete waste. The idea that any or all of us may be safer as a result of their introduction does not stand serious scrutiny. So let’s have that one in the bin right now.

But probably even more could be saved by ending the pretence of an allegedly independent nuclear deterrent. Trident is certainly nuclear, but it ain’t independent, and it deters none of the threats to the UK – as if you’d take out a terrorist cell with a nuclear warhead. Yes, there will be screams of protest from the Usual Suspects (step forward the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail), but we don’t need it, and the money could be used to far better effect elsewhere.

So-called “non doms”: yes, let’s have them paying something towards the country that they think is so wonderful. Again, there will be howls of protest: that these entrepreneurial spirits are being targeted by mere leftist envy. That is industrial strength drivel. If the folks at the bottom of the pile are expected to chip in, so should everyone else.

And, as someone who takes an interest in things transport wise, I’d strongly favour the start of a programme of railway electrification. Electric working is more reliable, does not rely on one power generation source, and is more pleasant for the traveller. More, at a time of increasing unemployment, it can tap into the pool of workers shed by the construction industry, with the increased number of workers employed feeding through into more general economic activity.

So let’s start that programme with the Great Western Main Line, and all the way to Plymouth and Swansea, with no corner cutting – so that means doing “via Bristol” as well as “via Westbury”.

Finally, while on the subject of transportation – let’s revisit light rail solutions for our largest cities, and give folks a decent alternative to increased car usage. Leeds and Liverpool should never have had theirs dropped, and neither should the London cross river tram have been binned.

Might this mean the re-regulation of bus services outside London? Well, as the man in House of Cards might have said, “you might wish to think that – I couldn’t possibly comment”.

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