We have become accustomed to regular bad news ever since ‘Age of Austerity’ style conference speeches. We need hope, not accountancy speak about cuts, pain, and deficit reduction.
But, while John Redwood has highlighted the need to cut tax on enterprise (I would add to that the working people who need to be incentivised to keep working, or to survive financially in the current climate), Iain Martin has demonstrated how the Conservative leadership doesn’t seem to know what its policies are on tax and is in a ‘tangle’.
I’ve thought long and hard about how to respond to Cameron’s new year speech and statements such as “tax rises may be necessary” from the Abominable Yes-Man* himself, Ken Clarke. Such sentiments are simply an inauspicious start to the new year and it is not what many people like me have been campaigning for when we have been delivering Conservative leaflets.
Since I am not a Tory myself, but a unionist, (the word ‘Tory’ has Irish baggage related to brigands, outlaws and the like), I am befuddled by the fuzzy logic that leads Clarke and the Nothing Hill set to come to the conclusion that tax rises will somehow bring the economy back to its glory days.
But, after all, it was the Europhile wing of the Conservatives that caused Black Wednesday by forcing Maggie to enter the ERM at the wrong rate. It was Lord Lamont, however, who famously sang in the bath that we had extricated ourselves from decades of economic collapse under the ERM and eventually the ECU/Euro that followed.
Never mind the historical precedents about what happens when you listen to Clarke and his ilk, it seems that the leadershipis taking advice from experts such as wealthy bankers and Ken Clarke. They say that accountants would slash and burn, whilst also raising taxes on already hard-pressed electors.
Is that the manifesto that is going to be offered to the country? Surely it is a recipe for a Hung Parliament – and, as much as we would like to see certain MPs with fraudulent expenses hanged, it would not be good for the country.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance had already won the debate on taxes. But along comes a bunch of idiots advising the Conservatives and those lessons are forgotten.
Why prioritise inheritance tax cuts for the wealthy, whilst raising taxes for middle- and lower-income people? Has the 50p tax rate made it acceptable to raise taxes?
What about the Laffer Curve? What about the economic fact that lower taxes stimulate economic growth, entrepreneurship, innovation, job creation and so on?
I do not know why they think tax rises and the age of austerity is going to appeal to the voter who has a difficult time paying the mortgage, raising kids, maybe health worries etc, and that there is no hope? Just more money out of yer pocket to pay the increasing social security and welfare budget?
In these tough economic times, taxes should be slashed – not raised – the lessons of Crewe & Nantwich were that lower taxes appeals to the voter. It is morally and ethically right and it makes life better for everyone.
And, as for the “class war”, well let me just say this. Had David Davis or someone else from a working-class background been Tory leader, he would not have even contemplated raising taxes on working people, while reducing inheritance tax. That says a lot about the state of society, the class divide, and the “Tories.”
We need Labour out, that’s for certain, but the alternative Government needs to get its act together for the sake of our country. Sorry to be so harsh but this needs to be said, and I say this as a warm friend, although one who thinks that a dear ally has somewhat lost its way.
* Clarke is a Yes-Man in the sense of “Yes to Europe”. I could live with it if he was a No-Man.
Well, Brown’s speech was well spun. It may have impressed the Labour delegates, but then anyone desperate or crazy enough to attend the Labour conference would have been impressed. It’s amazing, given that few of Labour’s councillors survived the recent culls by the electorate, that there are any activists left.
In order to try to seize the initiative, Brown launched a number of half-baked policies. The most heartless of these was the proposal to build detention centres to house teenage parents and their babies – clearly a group hated by Labour as much as they hate asylum seekers. However, it only took a young girl from Willenall in Walsall, interviewed on Newsnight yesterday evening, to demolish the absurd and heartless policy.
It is no wonder the Sun says that Labour has lost it given the performance of Brown. On law and order, schools, health, immigration, children, and our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq Labour has failed, and I agree wholeheartedly. Particularly with the Sun’s observation that only the Conservatives can restore our country after 13 years of Labour failure.
In 1992, it was famously said that it was the Sun wot won it. Well, wot we need is for the Sun to win it again so that we get rid of this Government wot has ruined our country. As Brown declares war on teenage parents, the Sun has said what hard-working people across the country are telling pollsters – Labour is washed out, worn out, and time to be thrown out with all the other garbage.
When people were asked whether they agreed or disagreed that “The NHS would be safer under Labour than the Conservatives”, only 39% agreed and 47% disagreed.
That raises the all-important question, if Labour is not better for the National Health Service than the Tories (which it traditionally is), then just what is the Government for? What is the point of the Labour Party any more?
Under Gordon Brown it continues to fail and fail, and fail again, even on the NHS that it created and has failed to reform.
And Dan Hannan can, as we say in Ulster & in Scotland, boil his head.
When Ken Clarke was chancellor and Gordon Brown shadowed him, their combined incompetence was referred to as ‘Clown’ (CLarke brOWN) – hat tip: future MP for Gordon Scots and Independent.
Now the Clown Consensus, which is tax the higher earners – though many are entrepreneurs and innovators who create the wealth – and those who inherit a bit of wealth has laid waste to the Conservatives’ Inheritance Tax policy. Clarke says it will be postponed – but the Tories say it is a promise that will be kept.
Matt Sinclair of the TPA, as always, hits the nail on the head:
The problem is that, in sending that signal, the opposition will also send other signals to audiences they don’t intend to reach. They’ll send the signal that, in Britain’s attempts to wrestle with record public sector deficits, the Government will treat the wealthy as targets. That will shift the balance between risk and reward for every potential entrepreneur wondering how much they’ll be left with if their business works out. If entrepreneurs think that the Government will seize too much of the fruits of their success then they might well conclude that starting a new business isn’t worth the risk. That calculation isn’t just about tax rates right now but about a perception of whether our political culture values entrepreneurs creating jobs and prosperity more than it does the satisfaction of taking shots at the rich. The same goes for multinational companies working out where they can invest without their employees incomes being absorbed by high tax rates.
The Conservatives should focus on addressing the priorities of ordinary people, trying to make them better off now and in the future, rather than attacking the rich in a misguided attempt at political positioning. That could leave us all facing a bleaker future.
The traitor Clarke should resign, because he has created doubt over a key policy – a gift for Labour. He still wishes to lead a party that despises him and much of what he stands for. And, as I said in January when Osborne orchestrated the return of Clarke, he will damage the electoral prospects of the Conservatives. In fact, his latest ‘gaffe’ (and the acceptance of Labour’s 45p proposal) will probably cause the Tories’ poll ratings to nosedive.
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.
The Catholic vote is a very important bloc in key seats like Crewe and many in the north and midlands.
I am sympathetic to Catholics – having many good neighbours, colleagues and friends who are RC. I abhor sectarianism.
People’s personal lives are between them and God. While not wishing to debate the issue of homosexuality, I would caution the Tories not to disrespect the Pope – who is, after all, enunciating core Catholic beliefs – as a number of Tory bloggers have done.
Iain Dale should know better than his comment that the Pope should join the BNP – I’m sure a few Labour candidates in marginals will use that quote on leaflets or at least on the doorstep in Catholic areas.
The Half-Blood Welshman has a fascinating post on the subject:
Http://thehalfwelshman.blogspot.com (link on the sidebar to the left).
The abortion vote helped the Tories win Crewe and many Catholics elsewhere are considering voting Tory, maybe for the first time.
Don’t throw that away with anti-Catholic or anti-Christian fury, whatever your views. Better to have kept quiet. If you lose the Catholic vote, in a hung parliament, you will need those DUP and SDLP votes, after all!
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