There is so much that is funny about the Pre Budget Report that it's hard to know where to start. Perhaps the best way is to do as a commenter highlighted by Obnoxio has done, and just express it in a few words.
So in essence: fags up, petrol up, drink up, national insurance up (next year) but VAT down for 13 months. That's it? Fucking Whoopee.
But to expand, I found a couple of items made me laugh harder than a Tory MP when Darling was banging on about Britain being best placed for coming out of recession.
For example, this from the 237 page PDF file accompanying today's exercise in political fuckwittery.
a new HMRC Business Payment Support Service to allow businesses in temporary financial difficulty to pay their HMRC tax bills on a timetable they can afford;
Now, forgive me if I'm incorrect, but I remember when there used to be a 12 month payment holiday. That is to say, we paid tax on business profits AFTER we had earned them. That all changed when payments on account were brought in by Labour, which enabled the Government to charge (and add interest for late payment of) tax liabilities on predicted future profits. So, all Darling is saying here is that HMRC enforcers will wait a few months before knocking on your door and demanding payment for profits you haven't yet earned, at pain of having your possessions removed. How very generous of them. A case of "Look how nice we are. You're still a lot worse off than you were when we took over, but we're less crap than we were last week".
As if that isn't laughable enough, this bit nestling on page 211 had me bouncing off the walls in hilarity (hence the post heading).
Tobacco receipts in 2008-09 are expected to be £0.6 billion above the Budget 2008 projection. This reflects that duty paid consumption is not expected to fall by as much as assumed in the Budget 2008 forecast. The impact from the smoking ban could be less than was incorporated into the Budget projection, or alternatively there could have been a fall in cross border shopping or the illicit market share.
There is so very much wrong with this on so many levels, but the best part (and the funniest), is that their blind allegiance to vastly-funded single issue groups has weakened their minds so much that they are actually basing their treatment of the economy on the rantings of these nutters!
"The impact from the smoking ban could be less ..."? But wasn't it all about protecting bar staff? This, surely, accepts that Labour knew there would be a deletorious effect on the hospitality industry. They knew, and what's more, it was what they wished to happen. Let's face it, they couldn't have seriously have expected a fall in "cross border shopping" seeing as they have been ramping up duty at a huge rate on the advice of the self-same nutters.
The reason for the increase of (NOT £0.6bn, let's put it in proper numbers) £600m over their projection, is that they were naive and stupid to believe otherwise. They were conned. It also shows that whatever reasoning they threw at Parliament for bringing in a blanket ban in contravention of their 2005 GE manifesto, it was a lie. A cast-iron, hammerite-coated sculpture of bollocks. They just would have had a lot more trouble passing the Health Act 2006 if they had told the truth.
So reminiscent of the 45 minute WMDs bleating isn't it?
We still have Alan Johnson talking shite about how 'largely positive' the smoking ban has been on the pub trade despite the loss of 36 pubs every week, and now Labour are compounding it by hitting the publicans again with an 8% increase on beer duty to fit in with their illiberal anti-drink crusade, based on another flight of fantasy.
I'm going to try to sell them the Eiffel Tower, they'll go for it. Pick your monument, and name your price.