Seeing a Tory government increase taxes on nearly everyone is incredible (Biggest hit to living standards on record as Hunt lays out autumn statement, 17 November). At last the Tories realise that, to have a civilised society, we need well-funded public institutions providing the services needed to make it work for all.
Or do they? In your standfirst online you write: “Austerity is pushed back until after the next election amid evidence of higher energy bills and a protracted recession”, which indicates that the Tories hope this is a temporary measure. This is despite the fact that we now know why we are in such a deep mess: the last decade of severe funding cuts to all public bodies is clearly the fault of previous Tory government policies.
My local council, Camden, says its government support has shrunk 67% since 2010. This level of support needs to be reinstated, as councils provide many of the frontline services that families rely on. The autumn statement leaves Labour with a set of open goals, I wonder if Keir Starmer can find at least one of them.
• Peter Mandelson once said that he was “extremely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”. But his critics often omit the end of that sentence, namely, “as long as they pay their taxes”. We are always told that those with the broadest shoulders should bear the biggest burden, and quite rightly so.
However, the tendency of successive governments to load this “burden” on to indirect taxes such as VAT in order to prevent a rise in the basic rate of income tax, let alone the rates for the better off, has helped to fuel the fool’s paradise in which many of us now live.
We on these islands have in recent decades come to expect Scandinavian levels of public service on North American levels of taxation. You can argue until the cows come home who is to blame for our present predicament.
But if you value something, it needs paying for. It has often been said that taxes are the price we pay for a civilised society. So let’s start by raising all our income tax rates.
North Hykeham, Lincolnshire
• I am appalled but not surprised to see the latest budget offered by Jeremy Hunt, which, as reported by Larry Elliott (Hunt delays pain of austerity package to give Tories a chance, 17 November), has been designed to kick the can of rampant inflation and state borrowing down the road to the next government.
Throughout my career, I have encountered a myriad of different types of leaders. Those who succeeded and were well-regarded had one constant: a willingness to address issues and take the difficult decisions needed to rectify them. A good leader does not leave issues to fester for their successors – even if it costs them dearly.
The godfather of advertising, David Ogilvy, once said that “leaders grasp nettles”. Successive prime ministers have not only shirked their responsibility on difficult issues – they have sunk to a level where they leave patches of nettles on the trail as booby traps to weaken those who follow behind them. Such machiavellian attitudes towards national crises are a disgrace to our political institutions and have no place in today’s politics.
A clear message must be sent to the government: that the need for leadership has never been greater, and that it must make attempts to rectify our national crises – not weaponise them for partisan gains.
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