The Conservative lead over Labour remains at 7 percentage points (Con 41%, Lab 34%, LD, 15%). Hat tip: Conservative Home. However, as I observed earlier today, Brown may be about to make two “excessive” policy risks by printing money and cutting taxes. Actually, the tax cut would be welcome, but would alas dent the Tories’ opinion poll standing.
Because there is a Labour threat — Brown winning a majority or hanging Parliament in a ‘snap’ general election — which means more disastrous Brownian (dis)economics and the grim prospect of a second Brown term.
The Tories’ two looming strategic errors, therefore, are:-
(1) They fail to propose an income tax cut before Brown does. The Conservatives have promised to elimiate lower rate tax on savings (interest on wealth) as opposed to reducing taxes on income tax (earned income) — not very egalitarian. As a result, they would lose credibility further (as it is clear that Cameron will not replace his mate Osborne), and may even gift Brown an opinion poll lead — if he appears to be more in tune with the people. Which Brownian (dis)economics can never be, though it might seem so at the time — after all, these good mortgage deals nowadays for the wine-bibbing “chattering classes” make them just luv Labour.
(2) They bring into the Shadow Cabinet the vilest proponent of europhilia, Ken Clarke.* Just because Labour has woken Mandelson from his coffin does not mean that the Conservatives should wheel in Clarke. This would inevitably create a UKIP bounce that would not only be disastrous for the Tories (and a boon for Labour) in the forthcoming European elections — but would spill over into the forthcoming general election. Cameron is already weak on Europe (i.e. EPP-ED) and bringing back Clarke, a throwback from the Major régime, could split the Tories but would certainly drive Eurosceptic voters away from them in droves.
Therefore, the Conservatives need to propose to cut income tax as well as keeping Ken Clarke on the back benches where he belongs — to see off the Labour threat. Otherwise, there will be a Tory leadership election within the next 18 months if they let Labour back in or gift them a hung parliament.
Labour won the 2005 general election because many voters stayed at home – apart from core Tory voters -and the welfare-dependent turned out in force. This is the calculation that Labour is using in its forthcoming announcement on tax credits, which Melanie Phillips rightly describes as causing ‘pauperisation’:
If Brown’s fiscal stimulus turns out to be merely yet more tax credits, he should be jumped on from a great height since this will increase pauperisation and dependency. What is needed is tax cuts for those in work on modest incomes. The danger is that Brown will simply increase state spending and use the crisis to pursue his agenda of redistribution and control. But the Tories, having got it wrong until now, have proceeded to reverse themselves and got it wrong again. They went along with Brown’s reckless spending programmes in times of plenty solely as a piece of political positioning, because they were terrified of being called ‘heartless’ public service cutters and thought the only way to regain power was by hanging onto the coat-tails of the left. Yet those times of plenty were precisely when they should have been calling for ‘prudence’ and cutting spending to put reserves aside for a when times got hard. They did not – until now, when they have ditched Brown’s spending increases on the grounds that adding to the national debt is an act of recklessness – even though it is probably necessary for these present circumstances and only these present circumstances. Their current position therefore seems to be deflationary and likely to make the situation even worse.
I empathise with her when she says she has “not and never has been a Tory”. She’s not the only one, and there are many like me too who think that, on balance, the UK is better off with a Conservative Government than a Labour one. The “Judas kiss” that the UUP have given the Tories will no doubt come back to haunt Cameron – the UUP is as discredited and as defunct a party as there can possibly be.
But that the UK is better off with a Conservative Government has never been clearer than on the Tories’ Tax cuts to help hard-working families Vs Labour’s Tax credits to win Labour the next General Election.
Hopefully, though Labour’s core welfare-dependent voters will vote for more of the same, other people in England and Wales will vote against Labour. We shall see – looks like June 5th for the General Election.
Mr Boom (Brown) and Mr Bust (Darling) have achieved the recession that their Labour economic policies were always going to deliver – as Merv ‘the Swerve’ and Mr Boom admitted in the last few days. Now, having created a bad situation for the country’s economic and financial position, can they perhaps ease the pain?
Alas, no. Their economic policies have very much been about government intervention – the bank bailouts, nationalisation, the ‘spend our way out of the recession’, and Keynesian (a swear word if ever there were one) spending on public works.
There is one way by which this gutless Government could ease the pain. It is quite simple. They should cut taxes.
But unfortunately that is beyond the leftwing ideologues who run the country. Their socialism has been revealed, as the only way they know how to respond to an economic downturn.
How much longer people in the UK have to suffer from Labour’s policies is anyone’s guess. Tax cuts are the only way to ease the pain, but this lot aren’t going to deliver those.
Low-paid council workers are right to strike for better wages in the current economic context. And yet there are many economic fallacies – in fact, outright lies – being bandied about by the treacherous, traitorous Labour Government. These are the very people who have suffered most as a result of 11 years of Brownian economic policy: and yet many of them will have rejoiced at Blair’s 1997 election victory and will have faithfully voted Labour in every subsequent election.
Why do I support a strike by UNISON members? Because improving the pay of the low paid in the economic climate caused by Brownian-Darlingian economic mismanagement, the ‘credit crisis’ and rising prices is morally right and socially just.
Let’s clarify two facts to begin with. First, 250,000 low-paid public sector workers on £6.50 an hour (of whom 75% are women, according to UNISON) have rejected a derisory 2.45% pay offer. So it’s not just about low-paid workers (on around £13k a year for a 40-hour week) who need improved pay in order to be able to pay the bills, school uniforms, mortgage or rent etc, but it’s about equal pay for women. These workers provide essential services such as:
social workers, housing benefit workers, rent collectors refuse workers, school meals staff, teaching assistants, cooks, cleaners, architects and surveyors.
These workers have been hammered by the 10p tax rate debacle and by other factors such as rising petrol and food prices. They’re now seeking a 6%, or 50p an hour, increase in their pay. Darling’s attitude is that, ‘we have introduced the minimum wage so there.’ However, it was never supposed to be a maximum wage.
Second, the economic fallacy that increasing the wages of low-paid public sector workers would be inflationary. This is an outright lie. This is a small part of the workforce which is in the public sector – therefore, their wage increases do not increase prices of private sector goods and services.
Yes, the money would have to come from somewhere – council tax or from Central Government – but it is simply not right to say that this scenario is similar to the 1970s winter of discontent. There is no hyperinflation like then and food price rises are largely due to external factors as well as the actions of City speculators and the biofuel industry, as last night’s Dispatches reported.
So there will be a strike and hopefully the Government and the councils’ employer association will see sense on this matter. And save these low-paid workers from financial ruin. But let’s not forget that the Government has got these workers into this mess with its policies.
UNISON should have broken its links with the Labour Party in the interests of its members – do low-paid union members really wish to see their money go into the coffers of the Government that has ruined them? And the union should not bankroll Labour at the next election – all they’ll get is slapped in the face.
Amazing as may sound to many trade unionists, the interests of UNISON members would be better served by a Government that implements radical low-tax policies for low-paid workers (as advocated by Conservative Home’s Tim Montgomerie). If public sector workers on £6.50 an hour could keep more of their own money, then there wouldn’t be any need for this strike.
Labour makes the “Poverty Trap” worse: it hasn’t been the party of the working class for a long time
As someone whose father worked in a low-income job, I know what effect this has on the family finances. But people who work in these jobs, when they could just as easily claim the dole or incapacity benefit, are the unsung heroes of the UK today.
Labour’s hatred of these people, who could potentially have been its staunchest supporters (and many of whom probably were in the past), is reprehensible.
Not only has Labour ratcheted up the “Poverty Trap”, where people are better off on benefits than in work, by a variety of measures including the structure of its tax credits system. But now, as BBC News reports, by abolishing the 10p income tax band, the Government:
penalises childless people in low-paid jobs. The Treasury Select Committee warned the ‘main losers’ could be deprived of as much as £232 a year. Chairman John McFall said they were an ‘unreasonable target’ for the tax simplification measure.
How many more people, whether white British or, in many cases, black and Asian, (and including a lot of women) are going to be forced into worse economic conditions and possibly out of work all together, by this discredited, despicable Government?
On a day on which, for many people, income tax falls from 22p to 20p in the pound – only to be cancelled out by the abolition of the 10p band – I would not even soil the phrase “tax cut” by using it to describe this dishonest policy by Brown and Darling.
What are needed are genuine cuts in taxation for people on low income – whether Single People, Couples without Children, or Families – to incentivise work and also to reward those who actually are working.
Tax cuts for the rest of us could wait until later, but at least can we stop penalising the people who don’t have to work but do because of a “work ethic”, or because it makes them feel as if there is meaning to their lives, or for whatever motivation.
It is also time to stop the lie that Labour is a Party for the working-class. It gave up that distinction a long time ago.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA), which was only formed in 2004 by Andrew Allum, Matthew Elliott and Florence Heath “to represent taxpayers and to fight for lower taxes”, has won the argument on taxes. The old consensus, which formed some time in the 1990s, that taxes should not be cut but in fact should be raised in certain circumstances, has been well and truly broken by the TPA.
Whilst the TPA has won the argument on tax – for example, Labour scrambled to make a pale imitation of George Osborne’s brilliant inheritance tax proposals – elements of the Labour left are still influencing Government policies.
No doubt the business start-up rate will fall, and indeed there may be a rush to sell small firms, due to the despicable increase in Capital Gains Tax from 10% to 18%. This was a sop to the Trades Unions, who promise to fund Labour’s election whenever that is, who have been aggravating about Private Equity bosses for years. Whilst the CGT increase means that Private Equity Bosses still pay less than the 20% lower band tax paid by everyone else, this measure has inadvertently penalised many small business owners. We all knew that Brown never meant what he said about entrepreneurship, and ‘enterprise for all’, and in fact all he has achieved is damaging the British economy and the main creators of new jobs – small firms.
It was reported that £1.4bn of taxes are being raised by Darling’s “mini budget”, for example by robbing pension funds (again) and many other tax-raising, entrepreneurship-harming, family-crushing measures.
More gallingly, today’s Telegraph reports that a Labour ‘opinion former’, an adviser to Brown, recommends replacing council tax with a new income tax:
“Take Council Tax away from the local authorities and make it a national property tax, easier to administer; easier to administer more fairly. Cap the property tax by reference to income, to solve the problem of the asset rich, income poor households. But don’t do any of this without serious investment in public sector skills to capture the benefit of change.”
Yes, Council Tax is unfair, but if Labour were to go down this road they would risk experiencing the same slump in popularity that the Tories achieved when they introduced the Community Charge. Indeed, this could be Labour’s own poll tax. Brown is so risk averse that it is unlikely he would go down this road, but one never knows.
The TPA has won the argument on taxation, so it is time that someone actually told Labour that this is the case. Their tax-raising ‘mini-budget’, and the fact that the TPA is leading the debate on policy, has already contributed to a slump in the Government’s fall in the opinion polls.
Such policy measures may have been popular with Labour’s ‘core vote’ when it governed in 1945-1950, 1964-1970 and 1974-1979, but (a) Labour lost the subsequent election, and (b) the Labour ‘core vote’ is not the old socialist, ‘soak-the-rich’ (i.e. soak-the-middle-classes) types of generations past. Many people who have voted Labour since 1997 are exactly the sort of people who would be damaged by such a measure.
Think again, Gordon et al, the TPA has won the argument. If you go down the road of a new property/income tax, you will be well and truly obliterated at the following election. But actually that would quite suit the youngsters, such as David Miliband, who can’t wait to get the top job, but by then the top job will be Leader of the Opposition in a Labour Party that will be out of power for a long time.
- Alistair Darling
- animal welfare
- Bank of England buffoons
- Child A
- general election
- Gordon Brown
- gun crime
- intellectual idiocy
- Jacqui Smith
- Labour Party
- Northern Ireland
- older people
- opinion polls
- public sector
- Reg Empty
- Rhys Jones
- Royal Mail
- Shannon Matthews
- social breakdown
- social services