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Tuesday, 21 November, 2000, 08:40 GMT
Has Brown answered his critics?
Chancellor Gordon Brown has set the course for the next general election, but has he done enough to win Labour an historic second term in office?
His pre-Budget report includes a freeze on fuel duty until the year 2002, but will it be enough to placate truckers and farmers who mounted fuel blockades in September?
And will the chancellor's promise of more money for pensioners appease those senior citizens who promised to shout until their voices were heard? Has the chancellor silenced his critics?
This Talking Point is now closed. A selection of your e-mails are posted below.
Why all the fuss about direct taxation? I'm an expat in Singapore, where government taxes make cars at least three times the price of UK. In contrast, income tax is around 5% for a lot of people, and the average tube/bus ride about 40p. Oh, and in case you didn't know, growth here is phenomenal, education first rate and average income per head in the top 3 world-wide. What's the difference, the government here actually plans for the long term rather than the short term benefits of the minority, such as the faceless fuel lobby? At least with Gordon Brown there's hope, but until the UK wakes up, I think I'll stay here thanks!
The Chancellor has rather cleverly outmanouevered the fuel protestors by appearing to give them something generous.
However, at the same time he increased NI for the rest of us and has been steadily implementing stealth taxes.
The Government is putting in place tax measures designed to drive small businesses out of business.
I would like to know whereabouts Rob, UK lives because here in England road tax has not dropped under the Labour régime but increased! Like everything else they do, the Government has made prices go up for everything. After all, who pays their fat salaries if not us?
Alistair Darling reflecting Gordon Brown's views on pensions was pushing the "Stakeholder pension" yet the Chancellor has reduced the value of pensions by cancelling the tax relief pension funds previously enjoyed. What does he want? If and when contributors to private pensions understand the effects it will have on their final retirement income, Gordon and Labour will be out of office.
I totally support the Chancellor. I spend a fortune in tax each year, but it's a price worth paying to live in a society where the important things - schools, hospitals and the environment - are prioritised. The money I make is only possible because I live in a stable economy where we are all able to be well educated and our health is taken care of. Tax away, Gordon!
Brown is thinking long term: I remember when (under the Tories) interest rates were about 12 percent. I've got a mortgage and I would not want that to happen again. My road tax has dropped so I'm pleased. This country is run by the elected Government, not the Daily Mail or a few protestors.
Like everyone else in the UK, I work for Gordon Brown until the end of May each year. Until that changes, I will never be satisfied.
Tyler Durdenne, UK
The Chancellor says that real tax-cuts now would threaten
economic stability and result in
increased interest-rates? Personally,
I'd rather see some major tax cuts, then we could decide
what to spend our own money on.
If the Chancellor wants to encourage savings and save London as a financial centre, it is a shame that he didn't cut stamp duty on share purchases.
Nick, London, UK
I'm am a normal motorist and I find it totally unacceptable that fuel prices are so high. The Government started off saying that cutting the cost of the fuel would hit the NHS, old people etc, etc. Maybe I'm wrong but I thought these issues were funded by income tax and National Insurance.
The 'stealthy' increase in the employees National Insurance upper earnings limit means that anyone earning more than £30,000 will be £200 a year worse off. You can be sure that what Gordon Brown gives with one hand, he takes back more with the other.
As someone who travels to work every day by public transport and walking and therefore 'doing my bit', I feel robbed by the current ludicrous price of fuel. Even with low annual mileage my fuel costs are still 25% of my mortgage. Gordon Brown has not done enough, not nearly enough.
How can the fuel protest lobbies clam to represent everyone in the country when about 60 people elected them? Certainly they don't represent me. What do people want? Fuel is a scarce resource and should be consumed prudently taking into account the environmental issues. This county needs investment in national institutions such as health services and education, there are no two ways about it. The economy is healthy and everyone can share its wealth - be patient.
Mark Pritchard, Wales
Hauliers are going out of business because there are more trucks than loads.
The next time I disagree with Government policy should I complain democratically at the ballot box or should I just block a road? Democracy is dead, killed by the cowardice of Mr Brown.
I wonder when the French lorry drivers will start blockading the tunnel and Channel ports in response to Brown's illegal taxation of European lorries in the UK?
Rob Weaver, England
Who has spotted that in the paperwork behind the pre-budget speech, Gordon Brown has announced an increase in the limit for employees' NI payments by 7.5% - 3 times inflation? Yet another tax hitting the earners of the country. It is utterly cynical the way that decreases are announced in his speech and the bad news is hidden away.
Mr Brown will never give in to the minority protesters? That's a good one since all the main features of this mini-budget are (half-hearted) attempts to appease just those people. Lorry drivers protest and they get a tax reduction and the Brit disc; Farmers make a scene and they get free road tax; Pensioners protest and they get a pension rise.
Albert Devakaram, India
It's time for the hauliers and farmers to admit that all they are interested in is bigger profits and that they couldn't give a stuff about pensioners, schools, hospitals etc. The fact that Gordon Brown is moving in the right direction to improve funding in these areas is of no concern to the self-obsessed fuel protesters, who no doubt make full use of all the public services available to them.
I must say I'm getting fed up with the moaning minnies in GB going on about how you're ripped off all the time and tax is too high. Try Denmark!!! You lot don't even know you're born so get real, get an environment and get a bike
Hauliers are not selfish or greedy. They are desperate! If Mr Brown doesn't act soon our roads will not be 'clogged up' by British trucks, they will be blocked by continental hauliers. Britain CANNOT manage without trucks! Incidentally, many modern diesel cars emit two or three times as many particulate per kilometre as a large truck that conforms to Euro 1 or 2 standards!
Hauliers and ordinary motorists are still to be faced with the highest taxed fuel in the world - in an oil producing country! Pensioners are still on subsistence level wages despite their contributions over a lifetime
John Moonie, Scotland
If Gordon Brown had done enough to rectify the situation then surely the lorry drivers would be placated. But the threat of further protest in the coming weeks indicates their continued displeasure with the government. It is clear to me then that Gordon Brown has not made enough changes to satisfy the public!
Reading some of the emails on this web page leaves me amazed. How easily fooled you all are. The chancellor may be deducting a few pence a litre off of ULSP but he failed to point out it is already 3p higher in price anyway. This means when the petrol is introduced at all the forecourts it will effective cost you the same high price as it did before the budget. Wake up its all smoke and mirror. The hand in your wallet is the chancellors!
To all those who complain about the high cost of motoring in the countryside, why don't you move to a town or city? Yes, we have a freedom of choice in where we live in this country - but the higher cost of private transport in the countryside is a given fact - you can't expect as much public transport as you get in the towns.
These comments about how Gordon Brown has done nothing for the private motorist are bizarre. Quite evidently he has done something by reducing the cost of road tax for cars up to 1.5litre. Of course, he hasn't done anything for the selfish and thoughtless private car users who insist on driving petrol-guzzling monsters. Is that the real problem here?
Mike C, England
Mr Brown has cynically ignored the real problem - the price of fuel at the pump today. He has given little sweeteners to as many different groups as possible. "Divide and Conquer".
It seems that Gordon Brown has shot
himself in the foot. He has taken too
much tax from the public and his coffers
are full. But even if he wanted to give
it back, he can't because it will
make interest rates and inflation
rise. It's a lose/ lose situation for
the general public.
Our petrol is still the most expensive in Europe and a crippling weekly cost for most ordinary people. MPs spend a fortune of taxpayers' money feathering their own nests - look at the cost of the new offices at Westminster and the pensions they retire on - yet grudgingly give only a few pounds back to the pensioners who helped pay for it all. Labour will be out next year because they've betrayed the people who voted for them by taxing them by stealth.
Not as bad as it could have been,
but I'm sorry to see the over-supplied haulage industry has been
given vehicle excise duty cuts.
We already know the heaviest
ones cause the most damage, and
it's these that are getting the
Oh, and to all those who complain
about petrol being so much cheaper
in Europe - why don't you move
Mark B, UK
Excellent budget news, my car tax has been halved, we're going to be getting fuel that's better for the environment with a wee discount, and my Dad is getting all sorts of bonuses with his pension - we're rural folk in Scotland and we're delighted!
Now will these moaning farmers quit saying they represent me and go back to work now?
Yes - he has done enough. We should not be held to ransom by the fuel protesters- we should take legal action against them. They prevent free passage and prevent us from running our businesses.
Well lets face it, even if the farcical 26p had been knocked off fuel tax, it would've been added on elsewhere. But as someone who is sick of hearing about the price of petrol, I'm rather glad that my little car will be cheaper to run shortly as a result of the road tax threshold being moved to 1.2 engines. Get rid of all these stinking great lorries, and 4 wheel drives I say. The one's that complain the most are the cause of the majority of the pollution and congestion on our roads anyway.
Whatever else this budget means, the £55 discount I'll get on my road tax next year more than matches William Hague's fuel tax cut pledge, so I certainly won't be backing any fuel protests.
Oh well done, Gordon.
In one go you have:
Pete B, UK
Gordon's tried to appease farmers by, for example, ending excise duty for tractors, but there are millions of other people out there who want cheaper fuel.
The Chancellor has proved that in order to get noticed by this Government, you have to protest! So stand by for all other groups who feel hard done by to disrupt our lives in the hope of getting special treatment, naturally at the expense of the silent majority.
The freeze on duty is like stabbing someone in the back and then removing the dagger without attempting to stop the bleeding. This will do nothing to appease the angry motorist. It will also take more than one sop under pressure shortly before an election to convince pensioners, or anyone else for that matter, that this so-called Government cares about anyone apart from itself and its chattering cronies.
Mr Brown has most certainly NOT answered his critics and still fails to understand the strength of feeling behind the fuel protests by the majority of the public, not just hauliers and farmers by any means.
What we suffer from in the UK is in actual fact a misappropriation of taxation. Why should fuel duty be used to pay for education? Obviously education is of paramount importance to the future of this country but, why should the motorist subsidise the education of working parents with no vehicle? In simple terms, the low income tax that Brown keeps banging on about is falsely low. Maybe if he charged the amount of fuel duty that is used for items unconnected with road transportation and the environment as income tax, the majority of people would feel less aggrieved.
Geoff Dunne, GB
NO. I am an ordinary car driver, public transport
is not an option for me and I am still paying the most
expensive petrol in Europe. And of course I am one of
millions in this country. Gordon Brown has done nothing
Have you ever watched Gordon Brown? When he gives a statement his hands rub like Scrooge from 'Christmas Carol'.
You don't get anything for nothing.
Governments are there to take money from us and spend it wisely. I think he is doing a fine job in keeping the economy straight.
Anand Ray, Leeds, UK
Well, how incredibly considerate. A paltry 18 month freeze on fuel duty, rather than a reduction. Seems my mandatory travel to work from the countryside will still cost me a fortune! No bus, no train, no hope.
Gordon Brown knows what he is doing, that's why he's the Chancellor. It's time the armchair pundits at the Sun and other Tory rags put up or shut up and let the Government get on with it. The Tories offer nothing but weakness and recession.
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