Hint: probably not you

I’m rarely so explicitly political in this newsletter, but I’m angry, and I need to vent my indignation at the wrongness of what is happening in our country.

This may be a sign of my political naïvete, but I’m wondering who budgets are supposed to benefit. In an election year, I would have thought it would be a good idea to deliver a budget that delivers the greatest good to the greatest number – a vote-winner, surely?

But clearly I have a lot to learn about politics – or Conservative politics, anyway.

It would appear that the goal of budgets is to make the rich richer, and the poor poorer. In the run-up to Budget Day, there is much media discussion around what rabbits the Chancellor is going to pull out of the hat. In recent years, it seems that the magician is more intent on stealing your watch while you’re looking the other way. 

Yesterday the Chancellor reduced National Insurance by 2p, but according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, for every £1 given back to workers by the national insurance cuts, £1.30 will have been taken away due to tax threshold changes. By keeping thresholds frozen yet again, a staggering 7 million of us will pay tax for the first time, or join the higher tax band. This is wrong.

Extending the fuel duty cut benefits the people who can afford bigger cars or more cars –  they will save £60 a year, while those of us who manage with a single car that isn’t built like a Hummer will save just £22. This, too, is wrong.

A new tax subsidised ISA savings scheme for UK-focused ISAs, on top of the existing ISA allowance, benefits only those who can afford to save. 1 in 10 households is in arrears on mortgage and other debt repayments, and 1 in 5 people are anxious about their mounting debt. Saving is a distant dream – survival is the best they can hope for. Again, this is wrong. 

14 million people in the UK live in poverty – that’s about 1 in 5 of us. The Chancellor extended the household support fund, but only after extensive lobbying by charities, and only for 6 months. After that, millions will be left struggling. This is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Poverty is miserable. Many feel they can’t even pull themselves up by their bootstraps, because the system has taken their bootstraps. Public services have been devastated by austerity, and if you can’t get the healthcare, education, or housing that you need, your chances of escaping the poverty trap are slim.

“Wrong” doesn’t even begin to describe this. It’s uncivilised, inhumane. The gap between haves and have-nots yawns ever wider, and drastically unequal societies benefit nobody.

There is clearly enormous pent-up demand amongst our society’s poorest. Put money in their pockets, and they will spend it on all the things they haven’t been able to afford – food, shoes, a car so they can get to work without having to rely on public transport that in rural areas barely functions any more.

The money will flow back into the economy, keeping things moving. Put money in the pockets of the rich, and it disappears into offshore investments and property, pushing house prices further out of the reach of ordinary people.

How can this possibly be a good way to organise a national economy? Ideologically, practically, compassionately, it is just. plain. wrong.

P.S. Further fuelling my indignation at the wrongness of it all, I’m currently reading Bullingdon Club Britain, about the all-male, over-privileged, notoriously badly-behaved Oxford dining club frequented by Boris Johnson and David Cameron. It is reported that one of their initiation rituals was to burn a £50 note in front of one of Oxford’s many homeless people.

I’m angry and I’m sure you are too. I honestly believe that we can do better than this, together as a society that cares about the sick, the hungry and lonely.

We don’t have to keep getting it wrong – with better government, we can start getting it right.

Other News:

Tonight we have our long-awaited event at the Royal Agricultural University, Fairer Food, Better Britain, featuring 3 fabulous panellists. There are a few tickets left. Please join us for an evening of inspiration and discussion around issues including regenerative agriculture, local food production, agroforestry and alleviating food poverty. £5 waged/free to unwaged and students.

I do love a good litter pick. So satisfying to leave a place cleaner and nicer than you found it. Here with friends in Biddestone last Friday. When I was a child we used to have a “Keep Britain Tidy” campaign – what happened to that? The evidence would suggest it needs a revival – we need to start taking pride again in our beautiful country, and stop treating it like one giant litter bin. 

To keep up to date with me and my campaign, please follow me on Facebook. Or on LinkedIn, if that’s more your style.

We’re keen to welcome more campaigners to our team to help with deliveries and/or doorknocking. Please consider lending us an hour or two a month. Email my wonderful Campaign Organiser, Poppy Fair, for more details.

We are also looking for financial support. Every pound matters – even the price of a weekly latte would help. If you’re ready for positive change in the South Cotswolds, please put your money where your mouth is by hitting Reply to this email, and I’ll let you know how. Thank you! 🙏

Quote(s) of the Week

“Wealth is but dung, useful only when spread about.”
— Chinese Proverb
Have a great week!

Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash

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