Monday, 3rd October, 2022

[Day 931]

Today is Meg’s 76th birthday so we were determined to make it a pleasant day. But the whole of the news was dominated both at the start of the day, and throughout, with the announcement that the proposed abolition of the 45% tax rate was now indefinitely shelved – in other words the 45% tax rate would remain and the government would now be £2 billion to the good. But more of this later. After Meg and I had breakfasted at our leisure, we had in mind to visit Droitwich just some 7 miles down the road. However, we got to a roundabout to the south of Bromsgrove and we noticed that there was a queue of cars already in existence and apparently, there was a traffic jam of cars along the entire length of the road. So we decided to abandon this plan and to adopt ‘Plan B’. We filled up the car with petrol and then doubled back to treat ourselves to some goodies in our local Waitrose coffee bar. We had an enjoyable little repast there, made even more by a beautiful present of some fifteen roses, very kindly presented to us by some of the regular staff in Waitrose who know us well. Needless to say, this is one of many reasons why we are loyal to Waitrose and to its café. When we got home, we had two wonderful presents left for Meg on the doorstep. One of these was chocolates and wine, given to Meg by our friends down the road whilst the other was even more wonderful chocolates to keep us well and truly addicted. We have also received through the day a couple of telephone calls, one from one of Meg’s cousins and one from my sister, to convey their birthday greetings to Meg and this was highly appreciated.

During the morning, I could not resist consulting Twitter to which I do not contribute but which I like to follow when political events are moving very rapidly, as they are today. I liked the comment made apparently to Robert Peston from a wealthy banker who had stated that ‘we did not want the extra money, we do not need the extra money and all of this is just bringing us all in disrepute’ What is undoubtedly the case is that whilst there is a very widespread hardship across the country, coping with a 10% inflation rate, falling real wages, mortgages going up from about 2.5% to over 5%, there is a truly widespread revulsion about shovelling money to the already extremely wealthy. Of course, it is not just the policy which is extreme and obnoxious in itself, but it is the fact that the present Prime Minister and Chancellor have tried to avoid any real scrutiny of their plans by a triple attack on the institutions that have given Britain a degree of financial credibility. For a start they sacked the respected and immensely experienced senior civil servant at the Treasury the day after they were appointed to office. Before becoming prime minister, Truss railed repeatedly against what she called ‘Treasury orthodoxy’, notably the predictions that her plan to make large and unfunded cut taxes could raise inflation and increase interest rates. Therefore, in their eyes Scholar had to go. Secondly, they threatened to undermine the independence of the Bank of England who they also suspected of undue caution and financial orthodoxy. But finally, and most heinous in the eyes of many Tory MP’s, is that they sidelined the offer of the Office for Budget Responsibility but not accepted their offer of an analysis, saying that the rest of the country would have to wait until end of November to receive an analysis. Naturally, the wider financial markets are not impressed by all of this, sensing an incompetent and reckless government, throwing over all of the traces in a mad ‘dash for growth’ and this reckless behaviour is responsible for lowering the credibility of the government as a whole. There has been been an interview by Liz Burley of Sky News of Chris Philp, a junior minister pushed into the front line to defend the government policy and the adjective most used is ‘eviscerating’ as the minister gave the most abysmal defence, at several points saying he was not prepared to admit whether or not he had any part on the formulation of the policy to abolish the 45% tax rate. Language is of considerable importance in politics so government spokesmen in great variety have all day been saying that they wished to remove the ‘distraction’ of the 45% tax cut. So no spokesman will admit that the policy was a ‘mistake’ or even a ‘miscalculation’ or an ‘error’ and are seeking to minimise the enormity of the mistake they have made but constantly calling it a distraction. Some parts of the Twittersphere are suggesting that many Tory MPs are now going to exert pressure to ensure that benefit are uprated in line with inflation because the Truss team has hinted that this is one way they are going to fund the £43 billion ‘gap’. As this means that those on benefits are going to fund the tax rises of the rich, if not the super-rich, then this is also being judged as equally toxic and politically unacceptable so some Tories, lead by Michael Gove, may carry on trying to reverse elements of this mini-budget.