Budget `97: Nothing for middle class to be scared of

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The Independent Online
Philip and Gaenor Circus, of Weybridge, Surrey. Mr Circus, 46, is a barrister and marketing law consultant. Mrs Circus, 36, doesn't work. No children.

Income: pounds 130,000-plus a year.

The Circuses are exactly the kind of people that Labour has gone to great lengths to try not to scare. In this case, it seems to have worked; "A bold Budget," says Mr Circus. "I think they've started very well frankly."

Although Philip Circus is a former Tory candidate, he is impressed by the Blair government and was never very worried about the Budget. He thinks Mr Blair is "head and shoulders above Major and Hague". However, he also believes "leopards don't change their spots" and is doubtful that the Labour Party has changed fundamentally.

The couple live in a house worth pounds 600,000 which they bought five years ago. They are curently paying this off in lump sums of pounds 10,000 from savings. Mr Circus had thought before that "if Brown does away with Miras, it'll be no surprise". He was more surprised (though the money barely affects him) that it was only lowered by 5 per cent. The real surprise was on stamp duty; "Wow! I'm very pleased I'm not moving house right now."

Mr Circus is thinking of taking on a private pension, but uses the NHS. They have two cars and spend a small amount on drink.

In all, it looks as if new Labour's efforts not to alienate the wealthy will have paid off; The Budget has done little to change the couple's financial position. "If Blair continues to dominate the party, I think [Labour will] become the national party of government," said Mr Circus.