Tax cuts popular with Labour voters – shock, horror

by Stephen Tall on September 25, 2006

At last week’s Lib Dem conference – during the debate about whether or not the party should ditch its commitment to increasing the top rate of tax for the very wealthiest to 50% – the argument was made that the exisiting policy was simple to explain, and would prove crucial in helping to sway centre-left voters in key Labour marginals, where many of the Lib Dems’ best electoral hopes lie.

I was intrigued, therefore, by this finding from the BBC’s Daily Politics ‘perception panel’, which measured the public’s response to Ming’s conference speech (and with which I have only just caught up):

Unsurprisingly, taxation was a key theme, and we were interested in your responses to the following passage.

We Liberal Democrats are different. Here is exactly what we’ll do.

We will cut national income tax for 28 million working people.

We’ll abolish the 10 pence starting rate.

We’ll cut the basic rate from 22 pence to 20.

We’ll raise the top rate threshold from £38,000 to £50,000.

We’ll take over two million of our lowest earners out of income tax altogether. More than two million people.

Think about it. Money back in the pockets of the poorest working families.

Sir Menzies’ proposed reforms of the tax system got broad support from the Lib Dem voters among you – but got even greater approval from the Labour voters.

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I don’t think it’s a surprise that ‘We’ll take over two million of our lowest earners out of income tax altogether’ would go down well with Labour Voters.

That perception panel was fascinating actually. Apparently the Over-65s don’t care about the enviroment and men don’t care about Darfur!

by Russell on September 26, 2006 at 9:53 am. Reply #

It is very helpful to know that Labour voters repsonded well to what he did say about tax. Very useful in a number of marginal seats that spring to mind 😉

But as Ming didn’t say anything about the 50p rate there is no way of knowing hwo popular (or unpopular) it would be.

by Liberal Neil on September 26, 2006 at 12:58 pm. Reply #

as Ming didn’t say anything about the 50p rate there is no way of knowing hwo popular (or unpopular) it would be.

Fair point, Neil. But I suspect the unamended policy is stronger because of its simplicity: Tax pollution, not work. (Rather than tax pollution *and* work.)

Also – and perhaps this is my unfair interpretation – I detected in the arguments of those who supported Evan’s amendment last week a sense that the best (and pretty much only) way the party can appeal to Labour supporters is to approve tax increases for the rich.

What this panel suggests (I put it no stronger) is that Labour supporters are at least as attracted by tax cuts for the poor and middling tax-payers.

by Stephen Tall on September 26, 2006 at 7:59 pm. Reply #

Well I certainly agree with you that the emphasis should be on talking about the low income people we will help, and the green message, rather than the wealthier who will pay more.

by Liberal Neil on September 26, 2006 at 11:31 pm. Reply #

The Daily Politics link shows how people have broadly woken up to the idea of taxing bads not goods, but a lot of work still needs to be done.

May I suggest that the environment is far too important for squabbling about being ‘greener-than-thou’ (and I have seen some of this from Libdems). We need to support anyone making an effort here, regardless of their party.

I notice that in the blogsphere there is dialogue and linking between bloggers of different allegiancies, which is a healthy and liberal standpoint by all concerned, even if the statements are often somewhat blunt (it can be good to be laborious or conservative as well, of course, I wasn’t flagging a name!).

Maybe, Stephen, you could do a piece on the shades of green across the board, and we can be a cluster point for good, open and inclusive debate on all this fairer, greener stuff…

by ecofx on September 28, 2006 at 3:17 pm. Reply #

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