Letter: Kenneth Clarke's Budget: taxes, consumer spending, unemployment and Canada's Tories

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Sir: I am glad that your somewhat favourable leader comments on the Chancellor's magical Budget tricks contained the important caveat that judgement must at least be reserved on the tax increases that keep showing from the conjurer's sleeve. For tax is the centre of the strategy employed by Kenneth Clarke and his colleagues.

This has been no ordinary Budget to balance revenue and expenditure. It underlines the Government's fundamental shift to indirect taxation aimed at allowing wealthier Tory supporters to enjoy a disproportionate share of the national cake. The message is: if the wealthy don't need it, let's scrap it. If they do need particular services, let's find a way of ensuring they pay less than they can afford while others pay proportionately more of their income.

With three new taxes - insurance, airport tax and a threatened tax on motorway travel - combined with increased indirect taxation on petrol and cars, it is clear that living costs will rise in consequence. That means the poor will pay more, and for reduced services.

This strategy represents a clear attack on the interests of ordinary working people. Until it becomes possible to change that strategy, trade unions will pursue our members' interests by seeking wage increases that take account of the damage the Budget will do to standards of living.

Yours faithfully,


General Secretary, Transport

and General Workers Union

London, SW1

1 December