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Thursday 23 November 2023

Autumn Statement - Press v Reality

The title for this post was decided upon not this morning, but yesterday evening before any front pages were available, although the increased tax burden of the Autumn Statement was known. This is mentioned to show just how predictable our free and fearless press is on occasions when the herd decides to circle the wagons around a beleaguered Tory party.

Spin it so hard it breaks

The reality - conceded by the BBC headline - is “Autumn Statement: Jeremy Hunt cuts National Insurance but tax burden still rises”. This was confirmed by the FT telling “Tax burden surges despite Hunt cuts”. SPOONERISM ALERT! But for those out there on the right, Tories increasing the tax burden could not be admitted; their readers might take fright at the dose of reality.

So it was that the Murdoch Times proclaimed “Hunt eases tax burden”. Over at the Sun, the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, still pretending to be a real journalist, was the name on the by-line as the paper frothed “Mini-Budget Boost In January … NEW YEAR’S WAHEY!” And there was more.


£450 off National Insurance payments … £18 a week rise in the state pension … and duty frozen on all your party booze!” Only later is it conceded that the tax burden is going up, not down. This sleight of hand was also utilised by the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker.

The Daily Mail could hardly contain itself. “Biggest tax cuts since the 1980s … 27 million to save average of £450 on National Insurance a year … £11 billion tax breaks for business - the largest boost in modern history … State pension to raise by 8.5% as triple lock is honoured in full … Threat of benefits axe to get jobless back to work … But with total burden still vast … LET’S HOPE IT’S JUST THE START”. Burden still vast, but its increase not admitted.

No he doesn't

The Mail’s sister paper, free sheet Metro, was also on message. “Chancellor fires election starting gun … HAPPY N. I. YEAR”. But the headline does admit that “Growth forecast falls”. It was left to Sophy Ridge of Sky News to introduce the subject of “Fiscal Drag” - that millions were being dragged into higher tax bands, or into income tax itself, because tax thresholds were not being raised in line with inflation - conceded also by the Spectator’s editor.

Yes, even Fraser Nelson was admittingWhat Hunt didn't mention: the stealth tax rises … More than £40bn to be raised by failing to uprate tax thresholds in line with inflation … 4m more low-paid workers liable for income tax … 3m more caught in the 40p rate … Some 400,000 more in the 45p rate”. When the Speccy is not prepared to join the propaganda game, that game is up.

Election starting gun is right

Millions of workers facing a tax rise. And there was worse to come, as George Eaton of the Staggers warnedThe UK is still set for the biggest fall in living standards since the 1950s and the highest tax burden since the war (as OBR confirms). A terrible climate for a government seeking re-election after 13 years”. Torsten Bell of the Resolution Foundation put some numbers on that.

The chart I'd be most worried about as a Tory MP? The disaster of what's happened to household incomes: 3.5% fall between the last election and the coming one is the largest reduction in real living standards since ONS records began in the 1950s”. Andrew Baisley of the NEU addedOBR point out that Sunak plans real terms cuts to schools every year up to 2029”.

Get pissed and you might not notice reality

And not just schools, as Polly Toynbee of the Guardian observed. “The OBR says the Chancellor's measures will result in a £19bn reduction in spending on public services, after accounting for inflation. Far worse cuts to come”. The slow puncture of Brexit now beginning to bite, coupled to all those years of needless austerity. Then more unwanted news arrived.

That will be the immigration numbers: a big increase in inward migration year-on-year to 745,000. All those people who are mainly not white, without whose contributions the financial situation would have been markedly worse. The Tories pandered to the bigots when promising they would get immigration down to the tens of thousands. They haven’t, and won’t.

Hunt cuts. Hunt cuts. Hunt cuts. But can’t cut the looming General Election.

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Anonymous said...

Choco rations increased from 70 grammes to 30 grammes.

Life-affirming 2 minutes hate due every hour on the hour.

Burlington Bertie from Bow said...

This is a provocation, Tim!
All these facts and then that mention of the non-EU (ie not-entirely-white) immigration figures.

It's obvious that you're just trying to provoke your new chum 'Anon at 1131'. Slandering the Sun, taking the piss out of the Mail,recognising the contribution of immigrants, dissing Brexit.

If he turns up at Crewe (tee!hee!) you'll only have yourself to blame. And if you have to go out to get your octopus and chips tonight I should make sure you're back before dark.

Andy McDonald said...

Among its many sins, I think we need to make more of the British press's tendency to come across as a 14 year old boy who has just discovered beer and nude girls.