Today the Chancellor made a screeching u-turn, abandoning his plans to raise national insurance for the self-employed. It was a decision that revealed the weakness of Philip Hammond’s position. He’s still new to the job, and still prone to having his chain yanked by the Prime Minister and – perhaps more importantly – by nervous backbenchers.
So now we know that this Chancellor and Prime Minister are “for turning” – yet considering the vast errors they’ve made so far, there are far more about turns that could and should be made by this government.
People will be questioning why the Chancellor hasn’t changed his mind about proper funding for social care, and decided to spend more than the insufficient £2bn he offered last week. Or why he hasn’t reversed over his failure to fund the National Health Service properly at a time of extreme need.
It’s obvious to anyone familiar with the NHS bursary – which was cut to sve just £52m a year – that when more nurses are needed, this change was prime for a u-turn.
And when public servants are facing yet another year in this decade of pay caps and freezes, while inflation is on the rise, the government could and should have u-turned on public sector pay.
And then there are the services that UNISON members provide, starved of resources and with huge job losses forcing staff to do more, with less – while all the time being paid less.
If the Chancellor really wanted a break from his predecessor and to make a u-turn that stopped a damaging mistake, he could have given the UK’s communities and their services the funding they need.
Sadly Philip Hammond didn’t make any of these u-turns – or countless more – that he could have used to protect and rebuild public services. He’d rather ignore millions of public servants and millions more members of the public who are crying out for better services and greater funding for those services.
The media will mock the Chancellor for his u-turn, but history will judge him and his party far more harshly for the u-turns he has failed to make.