Budget Aftermath: Dorset's deserters stay away from the Tory fold

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Indy Politics
THE BUDGET may have satisfied Tory MPs, but it failed to draw the sting of voters in Christchurch, who inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Government in July, largely in protest at VAT on fuel.

The Chancellor's budget package - including granny bonds for pensioners with savings and VAT compensation - was almost tailor-made for the elderly in Christchurch, who voted Liberal Democrat in droves.

But some voters were still unimpressed yesterday. Sonia Toogood, a Tory voter in Ferndown who switched to the Liberal Democrats at the by-election, said yesterday that she would be worse off as a result of the Budget, and would be voting Liberal Democrat again.

'The fuel tax is just ridiculous,' she said. The extra 13p per gallon on petrol had forced Mrs Toogood and her husband, a painter and decorator, to discuss over breakfast whether they should sell either their van or their car.

'And what they give the pensioners with one hand, they will probably take back with another,' she added.

Typical of the middle-class people who were hit by the Budget, Mrs Toogood, 54, said the Chancellor had failed to tackle 'Thatcher's legacy of untold misery', including the downside of owning a house: her son is trapped in a house by negative equity; another relative has had a house repossessed.

The Chancellor had done nothing to reduce the disenchantment of Anthony Dale and his partner, Jacqueline Mosley, who run the Mudeford Stores. Both former Conservative voters, they both switched in protest to Screaming Lord Sutch at the by-election.

'The Budget has not done a lot for us, but we are more worried about Sunday trading,' Ms Mosley said. If the big out-of- town stores open on Sundays, they fear it will take vital trade away. 'They don't seem to be bothered about the small traders,' she said.

The Budget was seen as 'very fair' by the Rev Alastair Menzes, 77, a retired vicar, but he had little sympathy for the Government or the opposition parties. 'I don't vote. I put a line through the lot of them,' he said.