It doesn’t take a genius to see that the Government’s latest Budget, first and foremost, benefits the interests of big business and the capitalist system. Primarily, the Budget has been designed to make ordinary people shoulder the burden of economic crisis through cuts to jobs, pay, pensions and benefits. This comes on top of the privatisation of public services, particularly the NHS and council services.
According to the Resolution Foundation, by 2020 the poorest 20% of British households will lose an average of £550 from the tax and benefit changes so far announced since the election, while the richest 20% will gain £250.
This attack on the working class is the real reason why the Tories would prefer the public and the media to remain firmly focused on their so-called sugar tax.
Unfortunately, Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, can always be relied upon to give a sugar coating to Tory cuts.
When Vaz was interviewed on BBC Radio Leicester about the sugar tax element of the Budget, it provided him with the perfect opportunity to highlight the rotten nature of the Tories ongoing cuts to health services and disability benefits. But instead, Vaz used his five minute interview to heap sweet praise upon the Tories.
“This is a big and bold move that should be welcomed,” he explained, “it’s the government saying ‘we are concerned about the health of the nation, and we’re doing this through the taxation system.’” Vaz made no mention of the regressive nature of the sugar tax, a point that was only made when a member of public called in to the BBC to say something sensible.
On the issue of the Tories commitment to the destruction of the NHS, Vaz remained silent.
Apparently desperate to avoid talking about the broader implication of the Budget, Vaz fixated on one his favourite evangelising topics, the sugar-diabetes-NHS nexus. He thus closed with another pat on the back for the Tories, saying, “The diabetes crisis is going to cripple our health service unless we come to terms with it, and this is a very important start, so well done Chancellor.”
Given this is the same Chancellor who is orchestrating the NHS crisis, Vaz’s keenness to ingratiate himself to the Tory axe-swinger grates somewhat to anyone with a modicum of humanity. One can only imagine that Vaz is looking forward to starting another job outside of the Labour movement sometime soon.
A shortened version of this letter was published by the Leicester Mercury on March 26 as “Keith Vaz too sweet on Chancellor.”