Budget 1999: Backbench Reaction - Acclaim from Labour ranks
Wednesday 10 March 1999
"What a week," said Alice Mahon, a left-wing Labour MP. "First the ramblers and right-to-roam, then Michael Howard going, and then this Budget. It's like Christmas."
The increases in pensions and the fuel bonus of pounds 100 to help pensioners' winter heating bills were seen as the most popular of the Chancellor's give-aways. MPs who had found it difficult to defend the Government's record in their constituencies said they were looking forward to going home. "It shows Gordon Brown has listened to the party. It's a very redistributive Budget," said another Labour left-winger.
One source close to the Treasury team said the Chancellor had paid for the pounds 4bn give-away by keeping to tough spending limits in the first two years. "It's payback week," she said. Ministers as well as humble backbenchers were stun-ned by the number of surprises in the Budget package.
"We were sitting there wondering what he was going to do next. It was one bonus after another," said a ministerial aide.
Nigel Griffiths, the former trade and industry minister, said: "It's Gordon showing that the compassion that drew him into the Labour Party shines as bright as ever."
As the Chancellor announced the 10p rate of tax and a 1p cut in the basic rate to 22p, a senior minister leant across to his colleague and said that William Hague might as well go home. "What can he say? He can wave the white flag and say, `I'm joining the Labour Party'."
As the Tory leader replied by accusing the Government of putting up the tax burden, Labour MPs went off to the tea-rooms to celebrate. Ann Keen, a former community nurse and now ministerial aide to Frank Dobson, the Health Secretary, was delighted by the additional spending for hospital accident and emergency units, which would help to tackle the logjams for patients.
"This Budget recognises for the first time that there is a link between poverty and ill-health. It's a Budget for children and for families. It will go down very well in our constituencies," she said. Labour MPs said the Budget was the foundation for victory at the next election.
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 2 'Help me I'm trapped in a factory' messages keep being found on bottles of vitamin water
- 3 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 4 Wimbledon 2015: Dustin Brown knocks Rafael Nadal out of the championship
- 5 Primark and Penny's heir Barry Ryan drowns trying to save his 21-year-old son
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Russell Brand condemns moment of silence for Tunisia attack victims as a 'minute of bulls**t'
Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
Worker killed by robot at Volkswagen car factory
BP hit with record $18.7 billion fine over Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
iJobs Money & Business
£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...