Friday, 5 December 2014

Poor old George Osborne

Of course I'm not really expecting Osborne to get much pity but I suspect a lot of people don't know that he is a massively left-wing tax-and-spender, redistributionist and borrower.

This graph comes from the Treasury's report on the distributional effects of the Autumn Statement.

Note that these are percentage figures - and percentages of net income. 

First point from the graph: the top quintile have been made nearly 40% worse off than they were in 2010 in order to make the bottom quintile about 60% better off. That is redistribution on a fairly grand scale.

Second point: look at the 'all households' column. The additional tax is about 30% of net 2010 income. That's a lot of tax.

Third point: all fair enough, you might think, what with that top quintile being a bunch of billionaire bankers and oligarchs and so on. Well, to get into the top quintile you need a household gross income of £60,000 (see Table L here). So a senior nurse earns enough to put her/him well into the top quintile. (In fact, 2 senior nurses in one household with no dependent children have a household income that puts them in about the top 2% of the population.) Higher taxes for the rich? Sure thing - that's a pay cut for top nurses, headteachers (and just senior teachers in London) and so on. There just aren't that many very rich people out there.

Finally, Osborne is not just a big tax and spender - he's borrowing on a vast scale too. The UK's budget deficit is larger that Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden - and so on. Osborne's budget deficit is larger than Gordon Brown's back in the heady days of 2006 and 2007.

I suspect Osborne's wider social circle includes people who consider him some sort of austerity ogre who delights in grinding the faces of the poor. But his record is as debt-loving and progressive as any social democrat could hope for. If Ed Balls had the same record, it would surprise no one.

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