Yesterday, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond gave his Budget Speech to the Commons. In true Spreadsheet Phil tradition, many MPs on his own side struggled to stay awake during the mind-numbing tedium. Those who remained so mustered an occasional “Hear! Hear!”, and even at the right moments. But for the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press, it was an event of the greatest significance.
And this was yet another example of the London-centric press showing its remaining readership that it is totally out of touch with those who have endured, and will continue to endure, the misery of austerity. The Murdoch Sun headline was typical.
“The Halloween Budget … No tricks … just treats … Hamm’s tax cut for 32m Brits … Giveaway spells end to austerity”. Any more Police officers? End to local Government cuts? Moving to shrink NHS waiting lists? More staff for schools? Children’s services? Reversing that £30 a week benefit cut for the most vulnerable? No, thought not.
So it’s not a “giveaway”, and there aren’t any “treats”. But on they plough, the Mail gushing “Tax breaks for Middle England. Help for the High Street as digital giants hammered - and £20bn for the NHS. It’s goodbye austerity, hello to the … PHIL-GOOD FACTOR!” As announced on Chicken Paté News by Bob Danvers Walker. In black and white.
Not only do these headlines not reflect reality for many workers - bugger all use getting the Income Tax threshold increased for those scraping a living on zero hours contracts and in the so-called Gig Economy - they are clearly no more than Tory Party propaganda. And the same is true for the joke newspaper otherwise known as the Express.
“He finally said it! The Chancellor announced the end of austerity is nigh with a blockbuster Budget. We urged him to ‘splash the cash’ and now everyone’s a winner with … TAX CUTS FOR 32M”. As with any lifting of tax thresholds, it is the better-off who benefit the most. But somehow that get missed out among the momentary euphoria.
It was left to the Mirror to inject a glimpse of the world beyond the reassuringly expensive watering holes of the comfortably off media class. “The Budget: a great con job … IS THAT IT? £400m for education - but that’s not 1 teaching assistant per school … £650m for social care … but they are still taking away £1.3bn from councils … Nothing to fight record crime levels … but another big tax cut for the richest”.
That paper’s associate editor Kevin Maguire spelled it out: “Nothing for the poorest, pay rise for the Queen, austerity continuing and Brexit divorce bill could be up to £47bn - some uncomfortable truths behind the phoney feelgood headlines”. The right-wing propaganda is just sickening. It may also be self-defeating, and Jennie Formby pointed out.
Labour’s general secretary emphasised “Today’s Budget: - gave nothing new for NHS so won’t help the 4million people on waiting lists - gave nothing for schools - nothing for police - nothing for councils - totally inadequate support for children’s services … #Austerity isn’t over”. Note “nothing NEW for the NHS”. Old news recycled for propaganda effect.
The Tories are out of touch; their press cheerleaders are worse. No change there, then.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at