Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
Forum 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

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!
Dave, Singapore

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.
At this point in time it would appear that he has blown the Government's green credentials out of the water by decreasing tax on a new diesel that is worse for the environment.
Paul Rowlands, UK

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?
John C, Warwick, England


What happened to the supposed ultimatum the lorry drivers made?

Mike, UK
What happened to the supposed ultimatum the lorry drivers made? The fuel protests that have occurred recently are pathetic in comparison to the September blockades. It would seem that Gordon Brown has got away with it again. Putting a freeze on fuel has satisfied the British people but the Government in France would not be allowed to get away with such blatant disregard of their people's wishes. The whole fuel debacle highlights the British people's unwillingness to take action against their Government.
Mike, UK

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.
Derek H. E. Knights, England

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!
Dino Munter, UK


The UK is coming apart at the seams

Joe, Amsterdam
The UK is coming apart at the seams. For a Government that got itself elected on a pledge to put an end to 'rip-off Britain', it has become by far the worst perpetrator of the insidious greedy tactics practised by the likes of the banking and supermarket sectors. For me and my family it is the last straw. We sold up and moved to Holland last month and our quality of life has soared.
Joe, Amsterdam

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.
Rob, UK

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.
Chris Klein, UK


Our best Chancellor for many years

Tyler Durdenne, UK
I think Gordon Brown has proved that he has been our best Chancellor for many years. He has struck a perfect balance - more pensions for the old aged, 3p per litre off more environmental friendly fuel, a reduction in road fund licences for cars and a large cut for hauliers and farmers. I can't see what these protestors have got left to moan about. Most of them are farmers who don't pay duties anyway and most of them are just angry about the state of their industr - a fact which is rarely mentioned.
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.
Alan Landry, Gwynnedd, UK

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.
Brian, UK


If you tamper with the economy in times of prosperity you are asking for trouble

Nick, London, UK
When will the people of the UK understand basic economic principals? If you tamper with the economy in times of prosperity you are asking for trouble. The chancellor is an ECONOMIST. If the drivers and hauliers in the UK do not look at the bigger picture, they are denying the prudent spending on the NHS and Education that will improve the standard of living in this country.
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.
Tony Bolton, UK

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.
Jon, UK


The Government can be bullied by vocal minorities

Patrick, Scotland
The "pre-budget statement" served to prove that the Government can be bullied by vocal minorities. Petrol prices remain low on an inflation-adjusted basis. You would have thought a Government with the majority that Labour has would take a big picture view and lobby their international partners to make real changes for the future. For instance, raising duty on aircraft fuel to a realistic level - a move that would require international co-operation.
Patrick, Scotland

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.
Gary Winch, UK

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.
Brema Bremnath, UK


Why don't we just let farmers retire at 35

Mark Pritchard, Wales
Why don't we just let farmers retire at 35 and give them a pension of double their wages since they seem to want everything else? If farms aren't making enough money then they shouldn't cry to the Government for help. If my career was to stop providing for me financially then I would learn new skills and start a different trade.
Mark Pritchard, Wales

Hauliers are going out of business because there are more trucks than loads.
DominiConnor, UK

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.
Sarah Redfearn, England

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?
John, England


The UK is the 3rd lowest taxed country in the EU

Rob Weaver, England
The UK is the 3rd lowest taxed country in the EU. Sure fuel tax is cheaper in France, for instance, but we don't pay anything like the amount of National Insurance they do. As for the US, they don't even have a health service so cheap fuel is a pretty marginal benefit I would say. Can people just stop looking at one issue to the detriment of all others? I do about 15,000 miles a year in the car and do not have a small engine either. I can afford to run the car so should be prepared to pay the taxes.
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.
Fred, UK

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.
Steve, Lancashire, England


These interim goodies may not be enough to see Labour win the next general election in the UK

Albert Devakaram, India
Mr Gordon Brown deserves kudos for having halved the car tax and making it cheaper for motorists to run their vehicles. But what will continue to worry them is the cost of petrol, reportedly still the most expensive in Europe. The Chancellor has obviously tried to placate farmers by putting an end to the excise duty on tractors. This gesture will be warmly welcomed by the farming community. Again, the hike in fuel payment to pensioners is timely in view of the current flooded winter. These measures, at best, are sops handed out by any Chancellor to silence his critics for the time being. However, these interim goodies may not be enough to see Labour win the next general election in the UK.
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.
Julie, UK

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
Jonathan, Denmark

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!
Karen, England


Gordon Brown is at last heading in the right direction, but it's below the bare minimum

John Moonie, Scotland
Gordon Brown is at last heading in the right direction, but it's below the bare minimum. Few will be fooled by the 'jam tomorrow' promise of lower tax on ULSP as oil companies will doubtless hike prices to more than offset the extra 2p concession.
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!
Graham, Scotland

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!
Pete, England

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.
Ted Bovis, UK

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?
Paul R, Wales


Gordon Brown is a typical non-motorist

Mike C, England
Gordon Brown is a typical non-motorist. He does not understand the costs of running a vehicle over a year. The fact is motor vehicles are akin to having a second mortgage - car payments, insurance, road tax, servicing...oh and fuel. Private motorists have received nothing out of this. Once again we are relied upon for propping up the rest of the economy with high fuel taxes. This is one battle that is not over...
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".
Martin Hooper, UK

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.
Aris, UK


The Chancellor never had a hope with such selfish, greedy people

Fiona, UK
There was never any chance of the hauliers and farmers being happy, whatever came out of the budget. All they want is huge amounts of money being given to them, no matter who has to pay or suffer. The Chancellor never had a hope with such selfish, greedy people.
Fiona, UK

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.
Graeme Roberts, UK

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 biggest cuts! Oh, and to all those who complain about petrol being so much cheaper in Europe - why don't you move there?
Dave, England


He hasn't made a knee-jerk reaction to protesters, which is the main point here

Mark B, UK
Whether he has answered his critics is moot. He hasn't made a knee-jerk reaction to protesters, which is the main point here. The plans for pensioners show signs of thought, and freezing petrol duty will not cause fluctuations in interest rates. I have some sympathy for road users who have no choice but to use their cars, but none for farmers (who get cheaper diesel) and hauliers (who cause insurmountable damage to roads and the environment). Giving way to them would have cost us in the medium to long term, and the people who are complaining about fuel costs now are the same people who would be complaining if their mortgage repayments rocketed. I may be in a minority here, but I cannot remember last having a chancellor with as much vision as Gordon Brown.
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?
Peter Wilson, UK

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.
John Jackson, England


Looks like a good deal for the poorest pensioners - that's where money should be going, not on fuel tax cuts

Alex, UK
Looks like a good deal for the poorest pensioners - that's where money should be going, not on fuel tax cuts. Also, the increased winter fuel payment has to be a good thing. This payment is tax-free of course, something the Tories don't tell you when they propose to abolish it and merge it into the (taxed) ordinary pension instead.
Alex, UK

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.
Nick Heath, UK

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.
S Russell, UK

Oh well done, Gordon. In one go you have:
- given enough concessions to the protestors to encourage them to do it again.
- encouraged marginal players to hang on in the haulage industry, when the solution to their problems is a reduction in capacity.
- increased the subsidy to heavy lorries, which have never paid their full road and environmental costs.
- ensured egg on your face if the world crude oil price goes down before 2002.
Colin McKenzie, UK


These measures look fair enough to me

Pete B, UK
These measures look fair enough to me. I'll benefit from the lower tax disc, driving a 1.3 litre car - that was an unexpected bonus.
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.
Dave, UK

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.
I. Sanderson, UK


This re-invents the concept of generosity

Tim, UK
Let's face it. After stealing your money (estimated at the equivalent of an 8p rise in the basic rate of tax) he now tries to take a little less of it. This re-invents the concept of generosity. Let's stop the lies. I appeal to everybody to vote this loser out at the earliest possible opportunity. Remember, it's your tax money that is now paying for his political campaign waged through this mini-budget.
Tim, UK

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.
John B, UK

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.
Trevor Southerden, UK


What an absolute farce!

Geoff Dunne, GB
What an absolute farce! Who does Brown think he is? Or more to the point who does he think we are? Well...be it on his head!! I count myself amongst the moderate thinkers in haulage and I simply cannot believe this pathetic offer. We won't even see the difference, guaranteed! We ONLY use ULSD and have yet to see the 1p given in October! We'll never see it, the oil companies will keep it and make even bigger profits, while hauliers go to the wall because we can't compete with the continental haulier. The Britdisc won't work and it won't make a blind bit of difference!! Watch this space!!
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 on that.
Theo, UK

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.
Eric Connor, Belgium


I believe that the Chancellor has followed his aim of prudence

Anand Ray, Leeds, UK
I believe that the Chancellor has followed his aim of prudence compared to previous Chancellors. We are still in a boom: with good economic growth, low level of unemployment, low level of inflation and fair balance of payments. Even though, he is still using Conservatives policies he still uses them properly and for the BEST interest of the UK economy.
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.
Alun Bell, UK

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.
Mike, Britain

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE


Links to other Talking Point stories