"A budget we can be proud of".
Compared to the whopping porkies told by George Osborne yesterday, May is a veritable bastion of honesty. He told us this was a progressive budget that protected the most vulnerable. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has crunched the numbers (PDF) and come up with this as the most stinging of ripostes for the impact of yesterday's budget come 2014-15. The government's own distributional analysis model in the red book only went up to 2012-13, which is before most of the changes on welfare take effect. The IFS's model also doesn't take into consideration the reforms to housing benefit, which are going to be brutal, the disability living allowance assessment changes or the in-year changes to tax credits. Nonetheless, this is still the result:
The pre-announced were Labour's plans, which are the model of progression, based on the ability to contribute. Osborne hasn't just soaked the poor, as the Guardian described it, he's brutally anally raped them. The IFS, even though it minces its words in the usual fashion, concludes "[S]o likely that overall impact of yesterday's measures was regressive".
We were always going to get this from the Tories. How though can the Liberal Democrats possibly continue to defend a budget which has such a impact on the very poorest? How can Vince Cable possibly call this a "budget we can be proud of"? Not a single one of their contributions to the overall package makes up for what the end result will be. This was not the "unavoidable" budget. This was the relaunching of the most vicious of class wars, and the Liberal Democrats are doing the equivalent of delivering the kick to the head once the victim is already on the floor.