Saturday, April 09, 2005

Helpful Herbert

Owing to "ideological differences" and time constraints, it's probably best if me and Guido don't get into a debate on here over the rights and possible wrongs of Nick Herbert's selection as the stand-in for Howard Flight last night, but here's a round up of the blogland reaction to this piece of inevitable news:

Guido liked it.
Stephen Pollard liked it even more.
Tory Trouble also liked it, but for possibly different reasons that aren't too hard to discern, as did these chaps.
Paul Anderson seemingly didn't like it.

Either way, I agree with my co-blogger that it's a shame that the Tories can't stand for elections on tax-cutting platforms anymore.

What's the big deal? Tories aim to cut taxes, Socialists aim to raise taxes. This is news?

Who are these 'Socialists' you speak of, sir? BTW, aiming is not the same as doing. Labour cut the basic rate of income tax twice. There's little left for the Tories to consider, any cuts would have to be drastic to yield any direct benefit for anyone.

The Labour party constitution still says its a socialist party. (My grandmother would never allow us to say 'socialist' in the house. "I won't have that kind of language under my roof", she used to say, "Call them 'bastards' instead.")

We could start saving by closing down Ms Hewitt's DTI before she closes down the rest of British manufacturing industry. That should save a few hundred million in taxes (on electric lighting alone). In fact I think that is actually LibDem policy. We could also get rid of half-a-million bureaucrats off the back of the tax-paying workers without too much trouble.

Taxes are up and incomes are down, except for the ultra-rich. The bottom 20% of earners pay a higher proportion of their income in tax than those on average incomes, because they pay disproportionate amounts of indirect taxes. Why should the lowest earners subsidise means-tested benefits, such as Gordon's Working Tax Credit which is available to people earning £55,000 a year after its been expensively administered by bureaucrats? Tax cuts work for workers. Raising tax thresholds to £10,000 would take a million people out of the tax-man's clutches. Simple.

'Bastards' like Harold Macmillan then? Labour's constitution might say it's a democratic socialist party (and even then, the Clause IV provision that states it was 'seived' substantially compared to the previously overt one) but it's just a party of individual socialists (unless you follow Herbert Morrison's maxim that 'socialism is whatever a Labour government does'). After seven years I think it's safe to say that Mr Blair has dropped the pretence and we all know he's content to be the Third Way CEO of UK Plc until the reigns can be handed on to Gordon. Aside from that, what you're proposing is not dissimilar from the James Review and, in fairness, you're commenting on Whitehall as it stands pre-May 5. A major shake-up is likely after then.

I actually agree with you to some extent on taxes for the very low paid but I suspect it wasn't those that Messrs Flight and Herbert had in mind, nor Oliver Letwin when he conceded that grassroots Tories, and indeed grandees, were openly referring to him and Howard as "wimps" for not following a more instinctively radical tax-cutting agenda.

Macmillan might have been to the left of Blair, Mandelson, Milburn et al, but he was a Tory. So MIW - you support tax cuts for low earners. Good. What government waste will you cut to finance them cuts?

Macmillan once said that Toryism was "paternal socialism". A meaningful reorganisation of Whitehall could finance these limited tax cuts, yes. So could tax rises for the upper income bracket.


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