In essence, I don't think the VAT rise was "unavoidable". As I've said ad nauseum, I can get us out of this recession without raising the overall tax burden at all.
But for all that, I remember when that towering economic genius Gordon Brown lowered VAT everybody moaned that lowering VAT by 2.5% was going to do fuck all to boost demand and so it turned out as well. Now everyone is saying that raising VAT by 2.5% is going to smash our fragile recession. I don't fucking believe that for a moment.
I don't agree with VAT. Mark Wadsworth has often and adequately pointed out, VAT is one of the worst taxes there is. But given that it's there, I don't think a VAT rise from 17.5% to 20% is going to beat the economy into a pulp any more than a fall from 17.5% to 15% boosted the economy.