Letters to the editor

Osborne’s failure

[Re: Osborne needs to target tax, spending, red tape and zombies, Friday]
This article contains some very sensible suggestions, but it is hugely unlikely George Osborne will announce anything truly radical in this week’s Budget. First, some reasonable measures he proposed last year (rationalising VAT, for example, by ending reduced rates on pasties) were greeted with derision and a lack of understanding. He clearly lacks the philosophical or political expertise to properly articulate the thinking behind simplification (of the tax system or otherwise). Secondly, we’re already too far into the government’s programme of so-called austerity to see any radical change of course. Osborne has judged that it is less politically painful to reduce the deficit over a longer period than to conduct the kind of rapid, across-the-board public spending cuts that Canada managed. In short, he has miscalculated politically and can’t correct his error without admitting to his mistake. Finally, there is little evidence that Osborne and the coalition really believes or understands why liberalising reforms could give Britain an economic shot in the arm. His inclinations are corporatist rather than capitalist, and he doesn’t realise why giving people more freedom to spend, build and invest leads to a better, more efficient economy. Expect more ideas like HS2 in Osborne’s Budget.

Harry Rolands

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