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A look back to 1972, the last time very large tax cuts were introduced | Mini budget 2022

TThe Institute for Fiscal Studies said Friday’s Kwasi Kwarteng announcement amounts to the largest tax cut budget since Anthony Barber on March 21, 1972, just over 50 years ago. Here’s a summary of some of the prices you would have paid, and things you might have been watching and listening to at the time.

Cost of Living Crisis, 1972

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Barber’s budget has been called a “growth rush,” but prices for everyday items seem laughably cheap by today’s standards. A pint of milk was 6 pence in March 1972, butter was about 13 pence, and a gallon of four-star gasoline — leaded, of course — would set you back 35 pence or about 8 pence per liter. If you just bought a brand new Ford Cortina to fill it up, the car will cost you £963. The Land Registry indicates that the median home price was £5,158. If you still can’t buy a car or a house, you can always drown out your sorrows with 14pence beer while smoking a pack of 20 cigarettes that set you back about 25p inside the pub. Only 13 months into the decimal system, people can still be forgiven for their confusion about prices with “new money”.

This Ford Cortina would have set you back £973 in 1972
A Ford Cortina would have set you back £973 in 1972. Photography: David Newell Smith/The Observer

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TV, when it was actually turned on

In an era when two BBC channels still circulated “closed” periods during the day and Parliament was not televised, Brian Widlick presented on BBC One’s Budget Special Afternoon, entitled Special Budget 1972: Confidence or Crisis? With contributors including Brian Walden and Robin Day.

This means that children’s programming has been moved to BBC Two, where you can see Tony Hart in Vision On and there was a Jackanory story to enjoy. Later that night on BBC One, Robert Hardy narrated a documentary about the British Empire and Barry Norman was reviewing the films in Film 72. Of course, to enjoy it all, you had to pay for your TV license, which was £7 for a set in white. and black and £12 if you want to watch in colour.

Sounds of the 70’s

The song was #1 in the UK That Week Without You by Nelson, the song that also hit #1 in Ireland, Australia and the US. Also in the top ten was American Pie by Don McLean and Head Up by Argent. Lindisfarne topped the album charts with Fog on the Tyne, an album that spent over a year on the UK chart including four weeks at the top.

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David Bowie performed Starman on Top Of The Pops in 1972
David Bowie performed Starman on Top of the Pops in 1972. Photo: YouTube / GreatGuitarHeroes

American singer-songwriter Jodi Seal was the musical guest at the Old Gray Whistle Test on Budget Day, while Thursday’s version of Top of the Pops is one you won’t repeat on the BBC Four recently, as it was presented by Jimmy Savile. It included the Chiffons, Olivia Newton-John, Labi Siffre, and Tom Jones.

Radio One DJ’s lineup on Budget Day was a who’s who of the broadcast, including Tony Blackburn, Jimmy Young, Dave Lee Travis, Johnny Walker, Terry Waughan, Annie Nightingale and John Bell. John Timpson and Robert Robinson were presenting Today on Radio 4, while Radio 2 handled budget coverage in the afternoon.

Clough glory days with Derby County

In football, Derby County was on its way to winning its first English Division One title under the genius management of Brian Clough. Before the budget, they beat Leicester 3-0, while their title rivals Liverpool crushed Newcastle 5-0. Leeds United were busy dispensing with Tottenham 2-1 in the FA Cup en route to winning it at the end. In Scotland, Celtic were headed for their seventh of nine successive titles, while Glasgow Rangers eventually won the defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup that year.

Brian Clough (left) and his assistant Peter Taylor review the League Championship trophy for cheering Derby County fans in May 1972
Brian Clough (left) and his assistant Peter Taylor show off their League Championship trophy to cheering Derby County fans in May 1972. Photo: PA Photos / PA

In rugby union, Scotland won the Calcutta Cup 23-9 against England at Murrayfield in the pre-budget weekend, in a five-nation tournament that was upended by the political turmoil that followed Northern Ireland’s Bloody Sunday in January, meaning Ireland’s home games against Scotland and Wales abolished.

Elsewhere in the sport, Eddie Merckx won both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, Jack Nicklaus the highest earner on the golf course, Alex Higgins the snooker world champion, and Emerson Fittipaldi taking the Formula One crown.

Also in the news

NASA launched Pioneer 10 in March en route to study Jupiter before it became the first man-made object to leave the solar system, and Apollo 16 was scheduled to head for the moon in early April. The Godfather had its New York premiere before becoming the highest-grossing film of the year ahead of The Poseidon Adventure.

NASA's Pioneer 10 spacecraft
NASA’s Pioneer 10 spacecraft. Photo: Associated Press

Closer to home, just a few days off the budget, London was to impose direct rule over Northern Ireland, and the summer of 1972 was the last time you could legally leave school at the age of 15. The age has been raised to 16 as of September 1.

Change more things…

Some things remain surprisingly consistent. When Barber stood up to deliver the budget speech, the Third Doctor, John Bertwee, was part of the way through a six-part adventure that pitted him against sea demons – monsters who returned to celebrate their 50th anniversary in this year’s Doctor Who Easter Special starring the Thirteenth Doctor, Judy. Whitaker.

And what happened to Anthony Barber?

Within months of his budget, the chancellor was forced to float the pound, which led to a sharp decline in its value and huge inflationary pressure on the economy, which failed to grow in the way it was intended to spur his tax cut measures. After the industrial turmoil, Ted Heath called a general election in early 1974 and Barber lost his job as chancellor as Harold Wilson returned to office with a minority Labor government. Barber did not run for re-election when Wilson called for the second general election of 1974 in October in an effort to secure a majority, which he narrowly achieved. Barber went to work in the banking world, where at one time John Major was under his tutelage.

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