The Dissenter's Voice

The ocassional comments, opinions, rambling and rants of a liberal dissenter in New Labour's Britain

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tax & the Tories

The Tory Tax Commission has released its report and surprise, surprise it has recommended sweeping tax cuts. Well, the real surprise of course is how similar many of the proposals are to those laid out by the LibDem Tax working party this Summer.

Although there are differences over Inheritance Tax & Stamp Duty (the Tories want extra breaks for the rich, while the :ibDem package is redistributive) the big items - cutting the basic rate by 2% to 20 & scrapping the 10% rate raising the threshold to £7,835 are both the same.

This package would cost £21billion, its already clear that Cameron will look to counter the revenue loss through a 'Green Tax' switch, both he and Osbourne indicated as much at Tory party conference and are again briefing the press now.
The approach is clever politics, setting up a fake confrontation with the 'rightwing' report and balancing its nod to the party's grassroots ideologues with a high profile green initiative.

Of course the green switch is also at the heart of the LibDem strategy. If the Tories do adopt the same approach it will be an act of political larceny on a par with Disraeli backing Parliamentary reform. none-the-less the LDs shouldnt be overly concerned. The LDs new tax policy left it exposed, with the potential for the Tories to attack them in the 20-25 seats where the party is vulnerable to Cameron's revival as a high tax party. A Conservative green switch policy will signal that the Tories have changed their strategy against the party, to trying to kill the LibDems with kindness, stealing their ground and wooing back liberal Tories who supported the LDs since 97, rather than trying to scare with horror stories.

I suspect that such a policy will have a patchy success rate. It will blunt the anti-LD message & allow Campbell to hold on to some seats he might otherwise have lost - but it will open up a bigger prize, but winning over LD voters in marginal Labour seats who don't yet trust the Tories and win them more seats overall.

Yet again Cameron seems to be positioning the Tories in a way that would make it relatively easy for the LibDems to tolerate a minority Tory Govt if thats what the next election throws up.


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