The proverbial curate’s egg was ‘good in parts’. The dish Philip Hammond served up in his autumn statement was almost entirely off-colour, ill-prepared and dangerous for the health of the nation.
He had the grace not to repeat Treeza’s JAM slogan, condescending to the ‘just about managing’ who have suffered years of pain thanks to George Osborne & co. But you can see why – the tiny concessions he made (the smallest possible softening of those cruel cuts to tax credits, the banning of letting agency fees, a sum set aside for affordable housing) were heavily outweighed by the admission that economic life in Tory Britain is pinched and is about to get tougher.
What has this government been doing over the past six years to bring about these statistics:
- An extra £122 billion of government borrowing each year over next five years.
- Public finances no longer expected to be back in surplus by 2019-2020.
- The national debt set to rise by £220 billion and reach £1.95 trillion by 2020-21.
This, remember, is the government which somehow continues to win credibility ratings when the public are asked who they trust with the economy. The fact is that they’ve presided over a downward slide which shows no sign of ending.
And then there’s Brexit, which the Office for Budget Responsibility says is going to inflict extra unpredictable harm – unpredictable because Treeza May and her three Brexiteers can’t decide what kind of a divorce from Europe they want.
Under the Tories, folks, we’re all scrambled.