Tory tax hike: A Budget blunder?

It's a brave Chancellor who imposes a tax rise on 15% of workers.

It's perhaps a foolish one who does so when his party won an election 2 years ago having promised not to do so.

The Tory tax pledge from the 2015 election

Philip Hammond's decision to raise National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed amounts to a 2-pence in the pound tax rise for millions of people.

Specifically, the very people who have driven the surge in employment the Government has shouted so loudly about. The very people whose votes helped the Conservatives win their narrow majority in 2015.

Millions of people face paying hundreds of pounds more in tax, on the orders of a party who have spent decades accusing Labour of plotting secret tax rises. 

That's certainly brave.

It has all the makings of another budget shambles. On paper, it only sounds fair that everyone should pay the same tax in return for the same public services. But the self-employed still lose out on pensions, holiday and sickness pay. They get no paid maternity or paternity leave if they have children.

Why would the Chancellor take such a gamble? His assessment, like Theresa May's, is that the opposition is so weak they can get away with pretty much anything at the moment.

And Jeremy Corbyn is certainly doing all he can to help them. His budget response was one of his weakest Commons performances to date, a stump speech clearly written days in advance and delivered as if shouting through a megaphone at a Momentum rally.

But that doesn't mean the millions who've been targeted for a Tory tax rise will necessarily take it lying down. 

Still, that early election's probably off the agenda now...