You may have thought the pantomime season was over. Oh no it isn’t.
Panto dames Scam and Ossie have been hard at work. It’s election budget flash the cash time. Like magic, money which has been scarce will suddenly start appearing.
The next budget on 18 March will be the last show of the season. But the budget magic only needs to work until polling day on May 7.
The Tories were stung by the reaction to their plan to bring Britain back to spending levels last seen in the thirties. So the budget will try to bring the curtain down on the end of the Wigan Pier show.
It goes like this. Panto dames Scam and Ossie have been looking in the back of cupboards and under the floorboards for some spare cash. But not having found any real cash, they sold the family cow and bought magic beans. Come budget time these magic beans will have grown and produce headlines showing how Scam and Ossie had some money after all.
Perhaps some of the big companies have decided to pay some proper tax like the rest of us? How lucky, some unexpected tax revenue at last. And just in time for the election.
Maybe the money was found in an old bank account in Switzerland, or Panama. And transported to the UK by hundreds of happy Tory multi-millionaires carrying bricks of cash in Louis Vuitton bags?
With some glitter and stardust it will be whisked into the great election giveaway. It’s easy to get carried away with the spirit of the budget panto. It’s only later you find out – too late – that you’ve had your pockets picked.
We ordinary punters are not going to get the cash handouts Scam and Ossie have given to the very wealthiest. The richest have done very well out of austerity and out of numerous Tory tax cuts. Tory hedge fund backers have had their share of a £150m tax break. And that goes a long way when shared among the rich few.
The TUC estimates that our pay has fallen in value by £2,500 since the ConDems walked into government. Stagnant wages and rising prices in the last five years have dented the value of what we earn.
And wages are still stagnant. At the current rate, even taking the government’s favourite rate of inflation it could take a generation for wages to regain the value they had when the ConDems took office. And the Tories will never let public sector pay recover its value.
So the Tory panto double act is preparing to take the stage. Scam and Osborne want to throw some glitter in our eyes.
Get ready for “I’m sorry to disappoint those who heard I was giving away £200 a year in tax cuts”. [He pauses to let the sounds of booing and hissing die down]. “Because the magic beans mean I can give away £400 a year” [throws out sweets to the Mail, Telegraph and Sun audience who swoon and cheer].
If it is £200 a year in tax breaks for all, that won’t buy you a cog in the £12,000 Rolex watch the rich Tory backers auctioned at their Mayfair fundraiser. Rich Tory backers pay £50,000 a year for dinner with Dave.
Your £200 might get you half a frozen fishfinger with a low level minister. £200 won’t buy a centimetre on the yacht which was auctioned at the Mayfair fundraiser. And it won’t even pay for your £300 registration fee for Eton as Scam and his team know very well.
The tax breaks that the wealthy – and not just income tax breaks – have been pocketing are way beyond anything we are going to see.
Our £200 amounts to about 77p a week. That won’t pay for a pack of Cadbury’s chocolate fingers. You could buy 100th of a 30 day dry aged matured wing rib sirloin of beef from Waitrose. Or it could buy a litre of milk. Three-quarters of a litre of petrol, a can of fizzy drink. Or three chocolate Freddos.
Prepare for panto. Austerity? It’s behind you.
Oh no it isn’t. It’s permanent Tory austerity and massive cuts across public services. No matter how the Scam and Ossie panto dames dress up you know what they are underneath.