Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Phil's handbrake turn

Philip Hammond’s decision to abandon his proposed NI increase for the self-employed is one of those political debacles I find slightly puzzling.

Philip Hammond has abandoned plans to raise national insurance for self-employed workers in this Parliament after admitting that it breached the "spirit" of the manifesto.

The Chancellor provoked a furious reaction from Tory back-benchers after using his Budget to announce plans to raise NI contributions for the self-employed by 2 per cent.

It was easy enough to foresee that Hammond's proposed change would be attacked by Conservative voters and probably by his own MPs too. In which case one might conclude that Hammond completely misread an obvious problem with his proposal and from that one might go on to dismiss him as a fool.

Maybe he is a fool or maybe he simply made a political blunder, but the budget is a team effort and however tight that team may be, such a simple blunder seems unlikely. Far from impossible, but unlikely.

A blunder is one explanation and perhaps the best explanation because unlikely events happen all the time, but another explanation is bad advice. Somehow Hammond was persuaded that the NI change was a good idea, or it was his idea and nobody managed to dissuade him. The possibility that he was badly advised is interesting. Somebody sticking the knife in by landing him with a wholly foreseeable political disaster?

That’s one of the problems with politics. We rarely know enough detail and tend to plump for the easy explanation which in this case may be right. Or it may not. The knives may be out for Phil.


Michael said...

Diversionary tactics.

Let's look underneath the stones...

Longrider said...

It's been on the cards for a while. Gideon resisted it because he knew it was unsellable. Seems Hammond fell for it. It's a civil service wet dream. MOAR taxes!

The Jannie said...

A smokescreen in the wake of brexit? "Look, we're always ready to listen to the voters and do what they want".

Woodsy42 said...

Yet the tax which will actually hurt almost every self-sufficient family in the UK by thousands of pounds - converting probate from a 'service payment' to a tax collection device that will act like a new layer of inheritance tax hitting non-rich families - has been almost unreported.

Michael said...

"That’s one of the problems with politics."

...and a few days later, we couldn't really give a toss.

These weasels understand the four-day syndrome, forgetting the bbc and the graundinan, I still get my news online - except for a free Times from Waitrose which lies unopened by my side as we speak...

A K Haart said...

Scrobs - but whose tactics?

Longrider - perhaps it was Gideon's parting gift to Hammond if Hammond was unwise enough to ask for advice.

Jannie - it could be, but would Hammond have agreed to act the fool? Maybe he was 'volunteered'.

Woodsy - good point. They probably calculated that the effect is too far in the future for most people to pay attention.

Scrobs - they do understand it, although the internet may be stretching things out more than in the past.