Budget

My most striking impression of the Budget was not in the Commons chamber, but in the canteen afterwards.  "How was it?" asked one of the checkout ladies.  "Oh fine", replied a Labour MP.  "We're squeezing the rich."

Never mind that we have the worst recession, the fastest rising unemployment and the worst public finances since the War.  Never mind that the national debt will now double again to £1.4 trillion, so that every child in Britain will born effectively owing £22,500, and interest costs alone now equate to the entire schools budget.

In fact, tax rises are falling on the many, not just the few.  Most of the tax hikes are on average earners - beer (what will that do for our village pubs?), fuel, not to mention the £5 billion increase in National Insurance Contributions announced in last November's Pre Budget Report, which haven't yet kicked in.

In fact, the average family will pay £1,000 more on taxes between now and 2012 - a third of it on fuel.  That will dismay the many constituents who wrote to me before the Budget expressing concern about the impact of increasing the cost of motoring in our rural area.

Labour MPs were still shouting "what are you going to cut?" across the Commons chamber.  They didn't seem to understand how bad things are, or that the Government itself announced cuts in spending from previous plans: £2.3 billion off the NHS, £0.6 billion off Schools and £0.3 billion off the Universities and Skills capital budgets next year.

The situation is likely to be much worse, since most independent commentators believe that the Chancellor's growth forecasts are wildly optimistic, leaving a new black hole in the public finances.

Another Chancellor who bankrupted Britain, Dennis Healey, said he would ‘squeeze the rich until the pips squeak'.  But the truth is that everyone pays the price when governments run out of money - as every Labour government in history always has.

Michelle Taylor