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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 March 2005, 19:09 GMT
UK voters' panel: Gary Watson
In the run up to the general election we will be asking a panel of UK voters to share their views, in text and video, ahead of the expected poll in May. Here, in the first instalment, three of the panel give their reaction to Chancellor Gordon Brown's Budget.

Chris Li:
Bournemouth

Watch Chris's views

Gary Watson:
Peterborough

Watch Gary's views

Philippa Bartlett:
Rothwell, Northants

Watch Philippa's views

Gary Watson

MEET THE PANEL
Gary Watson
Name: Gary Watson
Age: 42
Lives: Peterborough
Works: IT consultant
Current voting intention: Conservative
In 10 words or less:
"Family man, business owner, school governor, England rugby fan"

I didn't expect this to be a dramatic or contentious Budget and there were very few real surprises.

The only people gaining from this Budget appear to be pensioners. This help is long overdue.

It's unfortunate that the help is very limited. I doubt free bus travel and a 200 council tax rebate will have many dancing in the streets.

Rather than a freeze on corporation and insurance premium taxes, a reduction would have helped businesses, especially small companies like mine, where there is not much capital for reinvestment and a minimum level of insurance is a legal requirement.

With my school governor hat on, I hope the refund of VAT for building our children's centre means the money spent on our centre will go further.

This would be a huge benefit to the area, but we'll have to see where the rebate goes.

My biggest concern was not addressed in the Budget. There were no real tax improvements at any level of income. I would have expected some sweeteners to make us feel the economy is doing well.

Does no sweeteners mean the economy is not doing well? I think that must be so.

This Budget has done nothing for me, which is better than the previous eight under Gordon Brown, and seems to be a non-event.

I certainly won't be changing my voting intentions because of this.


Send us your comments on Gary's views using the form below.

Your comments:

I agree with Gary: A damp squib of a Budget. It does nothing for younger voters or professionals. It's crude vote grabbing at its worst.
Jon Harrison, York, England

As an older voter I find Gary's belief that the UK economy is not doing well to be quite extraordinary. Property values have risen consistently, especially in Peterborough and on the back of rising employment and real take home pay there and across the east of England. Moreover the undisputed real growth in national incomes is 25% over the seven years, and faster than ever before or in most of the major European economies. Consequently we find overseas holiday prices to be more affordable for Brits than for many years.
Andrew Dundas, Ilkley, UK

The economy is in appalling shape. It's just that no one is prepared to admit it. We have spiralling public and private pension costs and no way of paying them. The police, fire and medical services have huge numbers of people about to reach retirement, and no money set aside to pay for them. These problems have been building up for the last 30-40 years as successive governments have collected NI payments from people and spent them, meaning there is nothing saved.
Nathan Hobbs, Luton, UK

The 200 isn't per year, it's a one off deal - so it's a pre-election bribe and nothing more. It does nothing to deal with the root inequities of council tax, and the amount Labour has allowed it to rise. The economy didn't just suddenly start growing in May 1997 - Gordon inherited a growing economy from the Conservatives and stuck to their spending plans at first.
James, London, UK

A solid economy from the Tories? Since when have a recession and crumbling public services been seen as solid? Have you completely forgotten the early 90s?
Gemma, Manchester

Does Gemma not realise that Gordon Brown's famous 50 quarters of continuous growth includes at least four years of Tory government? Yes, Labour did inherit a solid economy. If she can't forget problems in the 80s and early 90s (whilst the country was being sorted), is she prepared to remember the woeful performance of previous Labour governments? By the way, I have voted Conservative only once in 30 years, but I recognise their achievements.
Tony Weddle, Newbury, UK

Interesting to see the viewpoint that the economy is not doing well - we currently have the highest growth in Europe. As usual Conservative supporters seem to view the past under the Tories with rose tinted spectacles - have they forgotten the cycles of boom and bust in the 80s and 90s? Can they not objectively compare this with the largest period of sustained, stable growth since 97? I am particularly impressed with the comment about it being about time pensioners got some help - if Gary was truly concerned about this he would not support the Conservatives, the party that has caused the most harm to pensioners' financial positions.
Mark Davies, London, UK

When Brown started his chancellorship he stuck with Tory spending limits and the country's finances were in the black with national debt being repaid. Today there is a large deficit again and the only way the paltry bribes of this Budget can be financed is to tax North Sea Oil revenues in advance. As to the Conservatives having "caused the most harm to pensioners' financial positions" Mark Davies ought to look carefully at Brown's removal of dividend tax relief and the yet more taxes on insurance companies included in this Budget.
Alan Tayler, Wivelsfield, UK

The equivalent of 4 a week, 200 per year, means nothing to Gary, but it is a big chunk to us pensioners. Along with the 200 to help with the fuel bills, makes 8 per week, on top of our pension. I would like a pension raise on top of that sometime.
William, Rochdale, England

I agree with Gary - a non-event. If I drink one pint of beer less per week I will be 5p better off! Just the incentive I need to vote for a party bent on removing personal liberties at any cost.
Chris, Leicester, UK

I agree - this budget tacitly acknowledges that the economy is not in great shape. They inherited something very solid from the Tories, and have now messed it up.
Ed, London, UK

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