NEW POLL: if offered the job by Gordon, should Vince accept the post of Chancellor?

by Stephen Tall on January 3, 2009

The right-wing blogosphere is fairly wetting itself today, picking up on the ‘exclusive revelations’ of the Daily Mail’s Peter Oborne that Labour is allegedly cosying up to the Lib Dems in anticipation of a pact which would see Ming Campbell elected as Commons Speaker and Vince Cable installed as Chancellor:

Although the PM recognises that it would be inconceivable to elect another Labour Speaker, soundings have been taken among the Liberal Democrats. The Whips’ Office has already launched a campaign to get Labour MPs to back former LibDem leader Sir Menzies Campbell to become the new Speaker. This arrangement would mean that Sir Menzies (who, incidentally, possesses the personal distinction and authority to make a very good Speaker) is highly likely to get the job. Indeed, he would be the first Liberal Speaker of the Commons since William Court Gulley at the end of the 19th century. …

and all the signs are that Gordon Brown is warming to the idea of Vince Cable as Chancellor of the Exchequer in a government of national unity.

Personally, I think Mr Oborne’s story is worth much less than the sum of its parts; and, as so often, he’s parcelling up a number of events and some fevered speculation into a far-fetched package.

For a start, that the idea of ‘Lib/Lab cooperation’ is being broken by Mr Oborne himself is grounds for suspicion – if either parties wanted to prepare the ground, they could scarcely have chosen a less sympathetic journalist. And Mr Oborne is hardly plugged into the close counsels of either Nick Clegg or Gordon Brown.

Moreover, I find it hard to believe that Vince – a serious, grown-up politician – really believes that becoming Chancellor in Prime Minister Brown’s Labour cabinet would give him real power over economic policy. The evidence that Mr Oborne produces – a paragraph from Vince’s recent article for the Mail on Sunday emphasising the need for unity politics in times of economic crisis – seems very thin to me.

What I think is conceivable is that Mr Brown is laying some groundwork for warmer relations with the Lib Dems. Ming is a political friend of Gordon’s, respected on all sides of the Commons chamber. It’s easy to see why the Prime Minister might prefer Ming to the political storm that would greet attempts by Labour MPs to install a third successive Labour Speaker.

Similarly, the Prime Minister’s decision to allow Lib Dem shadow cabinet members to meet Whitehall’s permanent secretaries to discuss the party’s manifesto – traditionally a preserve only of HM’s Official Opposition – is pretty canny politics, simultaneously making nice to Nick, while cocking a snook at Dave.

Anyway, over to you, LDV’s readers – what do you reckon: if offered the job by Gordon Brown, should Vince Cable accept the post of Chancellor? Eyes right for the poll; use the comments thread below to give your reasoning…

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No comments

No. No propping up discredited New Labour at all.

by asquith on January 3, 2009 at 5:41 pm. Reply #

Oh, give us a break. We are an independent party with our own political agenda and philosophy, not the handmaiden of Gordon Brown, John Major, Ted Heath, Jim Callaghan or any of the other canny politicians who may or may not have wooed us during the last forty years.

Having said that, from Gordon Brown’s past behaviour I wouldn’t put such an approach past him. He tried to seduce Paddy with a job investigating cigarette smuggling, and of course he got Matthew Taylor, Shirley Williams etc. inside his tent for a while. But it is just Gordon showing how clever he is – the man lives for politicking: he and Mandelson deserve each other.

I wouldn’t even want Ming to become Speaker – it’s just a way of neutralising one of our most effective Members.

by tonyhill on January 3, 2009 at 6:55 pm. Reply #

The story is blatantly Tory muck-stirring to cover the fact that they have George Osborne on the economy.

by Mark Wright on January 3, 2009 at 7:03 pm. Reply #

Peter Oborne seems to have gone into predictive overdrive.
Yesterday it was the Euro; he predicted on the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the currency that it would not see its 20th anniversary; he also said it was good we had stayed out because it gives us the ability to devalue our currency, and hence, our debts. Apparently this is what we always do when boom turns to bust.
It says something of our government that of the 27 countries only this one has to rely on the techniques of bankruptcy to survive. We seem to have spent above our assets and overvalued our property more than any other EU country.

Now we have Peter Oborne today speculating about Labour taking over the Libdems. Surely this is a repeat of what they did for the 1997 election. Unsure of whether they would get in, Blair conned Paddy into agreeing something similar, only to drop him when the Labour landslide came. I also remember talk of “subsuming” the LDs into Labour. Peter Mandelson had a big hand in this, and of course lured Roger Liddle over to be his assistant.

It is Mandelsonian mischief and we should not discuss it seriously, only for a laugh.
Elizabeth

by Elizabeth Patterson on January 3, 2009 at 7:55 pm. Reply #

Let’s look at this from Brown’s point of view. Ten years ago, we were effectively Labour’s allies. Admittedly, that was basically because the Tories were just so woeful, and so we were disposed to accept the minimialist boast that “things can only get better” under Labour. Nevertheless, that is where we were. Then, under Kennedy, we were genuinely equidistant from two “right-wing” opponents. Now, Clegg has pitched camp firmly on the side of the Tories. Gordon is bound to view these developments with dismay, and rack his brains to think whether he can do anything about them.

Gordon must therefore be tempted to take a gamble, and make Vince an offer, one which could either split or co-opt the Lib Dems. Gordon will, of course, understand that our first impulse may be to reject his offer with contempt. That, plus fears of an internal backlash, may well prevent him ever making the offer.

Alternatively, Gordon could do his best to make Vince an offer he can’t (easily) refuse. To do that, he should ignore anything complex, like a real Government of National Unity, or a formal Lib-Lab pact. Gordon’s offer-you-can’t-refuse should be a simple, no-strings offer – Just come and be my Chancellor, Vince. Fill that “vacuum of leadership” you were talking about. Show that you meant what you said when you called for national unity. Sort out bank lending, you’ve got the ideas. No strings, no formal deal between the parties, no collaboration at the next election. Take it or leave it.

It wouldn’t then, actually, be that easy for Vince to just say “Get stuffed Gordon”, without destroying his own reputation for honest endeavour on behalf of the people of Britain. It would be even worse if Nick said it, as all the commentators would read it (whether rightly or wrongly) as “Clegg stifles Cable”.

So Vince would have to respond, and a simple “no” would be an error. A better alternative would be for Vince to make very tough demands, and declare that he could not possibly do the job unless given full policy authority – starting, for instance, with an immediate reinstatement of the 17.5% VAT rate. (That £12M hasn’t all been spent yet – it will take a whole year to do that – so, most of the money could still be shifted back into green investment.)

Gordon would probably then refuse the tough demands, leaving honours even.

But what if Gordon didn’t refuse the demands, and genuinely ceded authority? Unlikely premise but, if it happens, then Vince must say yes, of course!

by David Allen on January 3, 2009 at 8:11 pm. Reply #

What bloolcks.

by Chris Keating on January 3, 2009 at 8:26 pm. Reply #

@ David Allen “Then, under Kennedy, we were genuinely equidistant from two ‘right-wing’ opponents. Now, Clegg has pitched camp firmly on the side of the Tories.”

With respect to David Allen’s quote above, can I second Chris Keating’s comment.

by AnonyLib Dem on January 3, 2009 at 8:55 pm. Reply #

I cannot see any scope for cooperation unless we have ageneral election and we hold the balance of power.
If that happens, we should make a committment to proportional representation a pre-condition of any coalition deal we make.

by Geoffrey Payne on January 3, 2009 at 9:02 pm. Reply #

David Allen. In what way is pushing the party further into a set of liberal policies and making the political ground follw us “moving towards the Tories”? They’re coming towards us, blatently, but on most of the liberal agenda Clegg is setting out, especially political liberalism issues like ID cards, we’ve led the fight, the Tories are following out of political necessity not actual core belief.

We’ve promised a radical agenda of redistributive taxation hitting the wealthy and the polluters (or have you missed the tax rises in the “revenue neutral” tax policy?), there’s no way you can call that ‘moving to the Tories’.

As to the topic at hand? I think we should run the next election campaign under the slogan “Vince for Chancellor” or perhaps even “Vince to lead National Govt” (as First Lord of the Treasury, naturally).

If Brown were to offer it, it’d need to be on very clear and specific liberal principles, and while I voted yes, I doubt Brown would offer the genuine economic liberalisation that Nick and Vince have been calling for, let alone the political issues that we need.

by MatGB on January 3, 2009 at 9:58 pm. Reply #

No deals before a General Election, and none afterwards until legislation is passed bringing in fixed-term Parliaments.

Even then, why need it be a formal coalition? Why not vote on the issues? We get to make our case, the media have to listen, and we can return to government which better reflects public opinion.

In the meantime, Gordon is never going to be able to restrain his control freak tendancies long enough to let anyone else take the tiller. The Tories are merely trying to make us break cover – they assume that we’ll sell our principles in return for power. I wonder when it will dawn on them that we haven’t up until now…

by Mark Valladares on January 3, 2009 at 11:16 pm. Reply #

MatGB, if you call the tax policy “revenue neutral”, why does Clegg call it “big permanent tax cuts”?

by Anonymous on January 3, 2009 at 11:47 pm. Reply #

Sorry, anonymous was me – David Allen.

by David Allen on January 3, 2009 at 11:50 pm. Reply #

Suprised that Oborne seems to think that Vince would want to be in Government with “Mr Bean”. Although, the fact that the right-wing media loves to speculate about a Lib/Lab deal shouldn’t really.

by tactical.voter on January 4, 2009 at 12:20 am. Reply #

if you call the tax policy “revenue neutral”, why does Clegg call it “big permanent tax cuts”?

Because you’re only quoting half the sentence? He always says it’s for the lowest paid as well.

Which is true, it’s a very progressive left wing measure that helps the poorest by taxing the wealthiest.

Feel free to read the policy and previous posts on this blog ad nauseum if you don’t believe me, it’s all there.

by MatGB on January 4, 2009 at 1:55 am. Reply #

A simple answer to the main question: Absolutely NOT

by Ashley B on January 4, 2009 at 2:21 am. Reply #

There is always the potential that we might make a deal and we would be well advised to be open to one.

However, I think it is foolhardy to speculate on the conditions for cooperation and until we know what we’re likely to be offered we should never bargain away our position on pipe-dreams.

If Brown wants to make a deal he should pony up and state the terms he is prepared to offer so that we can judge them on their merits and get past all this gossip-mongering.

It does the electorate a complete disservice to start second-guessing what may happen at some unspecified time down the line and we should definitely not be conned into complicity with such deviousness in the interests of selling newspapers.

Don’t these journalists have a real job to do instead of hanging around causing trouble for serious professionals trying to go about normal business?

Frankly that there is any talk at all of this sort is a damning indictment of Labour’s failure.

That Brown may be prepared to give up the most important branch of government in order to save his skin says that he has already lost it and should go now.

This thread is a recognition that Brown’s continuing presence in power is causing harm to the country, so one is left to wonder how much worse it can get under his tenure.

by Oranjepan on January 4, 2009 at 6:28 am. Reply #

I agree with Mark V – in a hung parliament, let’s let the largest party form a Government and then hold them to account. There will have to be more debate and compromise and less of the ‘Punch and Judy politics’ (that Cameron apparently hates). The media will have to listen, we’ll make much more of a difference to legislation and Government, and when the two authoritarian parties work together we’ll be the clear (liberal) opposition.

And if we came out and said “the largest Party should form a Government” we’d sidestep all this nonsense about whether we’re closer to Labour or the Tories.

by Grammar Police on January 4, 2009 at 9:30 am. Reply #

Besides which unless I am badly mistaken, any formal deal would have to be put to the membership and/or a special conference, the final decision doesn’t rest with the parliamentary party alone.

by jim on January 4, 2009 at 1:04 pm. Reply #

MatGB, I’m sure you know perfectly well who is quoting selectively. Yes there is always a vague nod towards the poorest, yes there are some poorly specified tax rises for the rich. But it is specifically not “revenue neutral”, and the rhetoric is “big permanent cuts”.

Now perhaps you would like to offer Clegg the alibi of dishonesty? Perhaps you think the words “big cuts” are just said to fool the public?

If that’s what you think, fine. I don’t. I take Clegg at his word. Big cuts, and a big shrinking of the state, is what he is about. The details of the state shrinking will eventually follow, when the time is riper.

by David Allen on January 4, 2009 at 3:49 pm. Reply #

David, tell you what. Why don’t you look at the top four results for the phrase tax cuts on Nick’s site?

I am taking him at his word. And they’re not “poorly specified”, they’re nicely costed, I’ve read the summaries and people I trust have read the full details.

September:

the evidence shows that tax cuts for people who really need help stimulates demand at a time of looming recession in a way Tory-style tax cuts for the wealthy do not.

Funding those tax cuts responsibly is challenging, but do-able if you take tough decisions. Liberal Democrats are planning to close loopholes abused by the wealthiest and increase tax on pollution

October:

Liberal Democrats are committed to lowering taxes for those who need help while raising them for the rich by closing the loopholes that benefit the wealthy.

November:

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg will this evening call for the unfair tax system to be fundamentally rebalanced by giving big tax cuts to people on low and middle incomes and asking the rich to pay their fair share.

November:

Liberal Democrats propose a 4p cut in the basic rate of income tax, which amounts to a £1,000 income tax cut for someone on £30,000. This can be funded by closing tax loopholes exploited by the very wealthy.

Yes, medium term, he wants to reduce the centralised bureacracy and return power to localities, he wants to free up schools to act in the interests of local pupils instead of national targets, and if further svaings can be made, he’d like to reduce tax.

Given that savings can be made at a central level is self evident (the Number10 website cost £10K to set up, it’s using the same software as Lib Dem Voice which is run on a shoe string), but the longer term tax cutting objective is only if savings can be made.

It’s all there in his speeches and in his policy documents.

I’m taking him at his word, but then, I’ve read what he’s actually said, rather than believed media distortions. What about you?

(NB, I would link to each speech directly, but that triggers the spam filter, they are the current top four results though)

by MatGB on January 4, 2009 at 4:01 pm. Reply #

OK MatGB, let’s just go for the first of your four results from Nick’s site. Nick said:

“The responsible way to return even more tax pounds to the poorest is to scale back unnecessary and unjustified government spending. That means trimming total public expenditure.

Liberal Democrats will cancel £20bn of failing government programmes and allocate the money to our spending priorities as well as tax cuts.”

Do you really still maintain that this policy is “revenue neutral”?

by David Allen on January 4, 2009 at 5:33 pm. Reply #

Now let me see. One of your worst enemies makes an absolute mess of things and you know it’s going to get substantially worse before it levels out. He then offers you the job of being fall guy and taking the blame for him.

An absolute no brainer.

by David Evans on January 4, 2009 at 8:00 pm. Reply #

The source makes this seem very unlikely, but if it were to be true, it’s much more likely to be as an attempt to split the LDs (thereby saving scores of Lab seats) whilst letting us share the blame for a mess we had no part in creating.

The only conceivable way in which vince (or anyone else) could follow such an offer up would be in return for delivery of electoral reform; the same is true of any post-balanced parliament cooperation. But, knowing Labour of old, I’d counsel that we see the ER put into place before helping them out!(
Oddly, my own view is that the Tories are more likely to deliver ER than Lab).

by johninpenarth on January 4, 2009 at 8:10 pm. Reply #

I thought we were talking about the policies introduced by Nick, not the ones he inherited from his predecessors?

Long term commitment to cut waste and reallocate, scrapping ID cards in favour of more police, for example.

So yes, I do maintain that the policies passed under Nick’s leadership are revenue neutral, as they clearly are. Especially given that they were written by Vince and FPC, and Vince has stated clearly that they are in many many media interviews.

Nick’s just better at getting the basic point across than those that went before, and the (right wing) newspapers are concentrating on the bits they want to hear about because they know they sell papers in areas that the Tories haven’t a chance in (like Sheffield, for example).

by MatGB on January 5, 2009 at 12:37 am. Reply #

Oh come on. You’re saying Nick is entitled to have a net tax cut policy, but still call it revenue neutral, because he somehow inherited the cuts ideas from his predecessors (nb – not true), and was therefore inextricably saddled with them?

While you’re into denialism, why not deny climate change and the Holocaust while you’re about it?

by David Allen on January 5, 2009 at 12:59 am. Reply #

David,
it is perfectly possible to be ‘revenue neutral’ and have ‘big, permanent and fair tax cuts’ – it’s called a tax switch.

I think you are being selective in not distinguishing between our individual proposals and the overall picture of taxation.

by Oranjepan on January 5, 2009 at 8:54 am. Reply #

Oranjepan, you’re quite right, that was the tax switch policy put forward by Huhne last year, and it was, then, revenue neutral. Things have now changed. Here’s my quote from Clegg again:

“The responsible way to return even more tax pounds to the poorest is to scale back unnecessary and unjustified government spending. That means trimming total public expenditure.

Liberal Democrats will cancel £20bn of failing government programmes and allocate the money to our spending priorities as well as tax cuts.”

So we no longer have a revenue neutral policy.

by David Allen on January 5, 2009 at 12:47 pm. Reply #

David,
you are making a very simple but glaring accounting mistake by making a category error between revenue and spending.

Switching revenue streams as a means of rebalancing incomes does not preclude against switching spending priorities to rebalance outgoings, neither does a switch in one preclude against a reduction in the other if this is to the benefit of the overall balance.

by Oranjepan on January 5, 2009 at 1:13 pm. Reply #

The “denier” comment makes you look pretty silly.

Revenue neutrality means that the amount of revenue spent on one new thing is balanced by a saving somewhere else. It can also mean revenue income is maintained.

Revenue neutrality could be maintained by redirecting certain Government project funding and closing tax loopholes and taxing other activities. That is how the policy currently stands.

Make it happen outlines a desire, if possible, to make further targeted tax cuts if addional “waste” spending can be identified – again, this could be done in a revenue neutral way or not.

by David's candid friend on January 5, 2009 at 1:39 pm. Reply #

Oh dear, where to begin….

Oranjepan. Yes, of course, revenue and spending are different categories. Clegg mentioned both in the speech I quoted, so, you’ve jumped in with both feet and assumed that I might have muddled them up. Not so. The Clegg speech clearly demonstrates his intention to make net cuts in tax. That is not “revenue neutral”, not the way the words are properly used. (Unless, of course, you think that words can be used to mean anything you want them to mean, like Hitler calling himself a socialist, etc.)

DCF: ironically, you’ve given a brilliant demonstration of how to make Oranjepan’s category error. “Revenue neutrality means that the amount of revenue spent on one new thing is balanced by a saving somewhere else.” In other words “revenue neutrality is all about spending decisions.” Oh no it isn’t! It is all about revenue decisions. It means that you will raise the same amount of revenue, by different means, as you used to do before you introduced a linked set of tax changes.

Here is the definition from Hansard:

“Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his Department’s technical definition of a revenue-neutral tax change is. [204873]

Jane Kennedy: A tax policy change is revenue-neutral if the net total of the change does not result in a change in forecast Exchequer receipts over the forecast period.”

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080514/text/80514w0012.htm

by David Allen on January 5, 2009 at 6:24 pm. Reply #

I’m still with Nick Clegg: do a deal with either major Party that will give us a written guarantee of PR on day one of the new administration. Otherwise, no deal.

This isn’t cynicism: it’s tiredness. I’ve been waiting since 1959 to put a stop to this cosy little two-horse stable,to make this country truly democratic and ready at last to change for good – and for the better in every sense.

Politics should be about honesty. But purity? We’re dealing with human beings here. I say, put Brown on the spot: PR, sailing through both houses tomorrow – or no deal.

We’d have nothing to lose from this because (1) We’re being straight (2) Such a system would be infinitely fairer and give electors more feeling of their vote being valuable; and (3) Brown would run a mile from it – thus being shown up again for the scheming, devious, dissembling snake he is.

Iknow this is a chestnut, but once again the question comes back to bite us: what do we want – holy opposition or effective power to change things?

JW

by john ward on January 5, 2009 at 10:41 pm. Reply #

@ David Allen – I think you’ll see that I referred to two meanings of the phrase “revenue neutral”. It can mean either of the things you’re discussing (as a brief experiment, take a look at the various uses of the phrase in various documents across the internet). Either use of the phrase seems common, and arguable which, if either, is correct and which is wrong.

To say that a phrase has potentially two slightly different meanings is fairly common to the English language, and not your straw man of “words mean what you want them to mean”.

Your superior tone, rather like your multiple references to Hitler, the holocaust etc, just serve to make you look ridiculous.

Ps it’s only ironic if I agree with Oranjepan that you’ve “made the mistake” and then make it myself.

by David's Candid Friend on January 5, 2009 at 11:27 pm. Reply #

“The Clegg speech clearly demonstrates his intention to make net cuts in tax.”

Fine, now please indicate (with quotes where possible) whether this refers to a cut in the tax take or the tax spend. ‘Revenue neutrality’ suggests it definitely won’t be the former.

Calling our plans inconsistent is a serious charge, so I hope you can back up your claim. Otherwise it would be more honest to stop covering any misplaced discontent and state what you find so wrong (be they unjust, unfair, ineffective, insufficient or whatever) about our proposed means to recover the economy by reducing the inefficient burden on the less well-off.

If you need someone to talk you through a balance sheet I’m sure we can arrange something.

by Oranjepan on January 6, 2009 at 1:00 am. Reply #

DCF, you are arguing that the home team have won, because “revenue neutral” can mean net tax cuts, according to your view of the flexibility of words.

Oranjepan, you are arguing that the home team have won, because “revenue neutral” rules out net tax cuts, in your view.

Would you two like to fight this one out amongst yourselves please?

Frankly, I prefer the views of Laurence Boyce. Laurence wants the Lib Dems to be a right of centre party that will massively cut taxes, and at least he is straightforward and direct in saying so. All you loyalists out there who are ashamed of our drift to meretricious populism, and want to put a bogus gloss on it so that you can feel happier about yourselves, just make me wonder what I ever thought was so inspiring about our plucky little party.

by David Allen on January 6, 2009 at 1:14 pm. Reply #

David, I really could care less about the semantics of whether our overall tax policy is revenue neutral or not.

What I care is that you have said, and I picked you up on, that Nick has made a “shift to the right”. I am in no way a loyalist, but having read the tax policies and discussion on them, they are, by any sane definition of left/right distinctions in fiscal policy, either no change or, as in my opinion, they are a shift to the left.

I actually put this to Nick when I met him at Sheffield, and while he didn’t confirm I was correct, he didn’t dispute my interpretation either.

In addition, I assert that the areas of policy you identify were pre-existing and inherited from Ming and Charles.

Thus Nick’s policy passed under Make it Happen at Bournemouth was revenue neutral, but the overall policy to seek efficiency savings, reprioritise spending and use any remaining savings to reduce the overall burden from the bottom up was already there when Nick became leader.

Thus I believe, as an open liberal socialist, that Nick’s policies are a shift towards me and the redistributionary left, and the pre-existing policies he inherited were OK and very liberal.

I care not about the semantics, but this debate started when you said he, personally, was taking us to the right. How do you justify that statement, as I see no evidence for it whatsoever.

I do, of course, remain a liberal, if the facts change, or my understanding of them changes, then my opinion changes. Nothing you have said disputes my opinion though.

by MatGB on January 6, 2009 at 1:29 pm. Reply #

MatGB,

“the overall policy to seek efficiency savings, reprioritise spending and use any remaining savings to reduce the overall burden from the bottom up was already there when Nick became leader.”

Presumably your phrase “reduce the overall burden” means “make net cuts in the total tax revenue obtained by Government”.

Well, here is what Chris Huhne said, when he introduced what was then a truly revenue-neutral Green Tax switch policy, under Ming in September 2006:

“Green taxes raise the price of pollution, so we do less of it. Because they change our behaviour, rather than raise revenue, every penny can go back in income tax cuts. This is the green tax switch. Taxing pollution not people. Lifting two million people out of income tax altogether. Cutting 2 pence off the basic rate. Fairer and greener taxes, but NOT HIGHER TAXES OVERALL.” (My capitals).

So you’ll see that Chris didn’t try to suggest we might actually be CUTTING taxes. He was concerned only to try to dispel the fear that we would be raising them.

Nick, however, does call for cuts. So the change is down to Nick. Your summary of Ming’s policy, in particular the phrase “reduce the overall burden”, is not accurate.

http://www.libdems.org.uk/home/summation-in-the-tax-debate-by-chris-huhne-mp-72949;show

There is surely a massive difference between “not higher taxes overall” (2006) and “big permanent tax cuts” (2009)!

by David Allen on January 6, 2009 at 6:37 pm. Reply #

David,
please don’t misrepresent me. I was not making an argument but critiquing yours.

You appear to be trying to cleave open a non-existent gap between our rhetoric and our policy proposals while also showing disapproval for your perception of an associated politcal shift (again, which hasn’t happened, or if it did, it happened a decade or more ago).

As far as I’m concerned we would not currently raise the overall level of tax – at the least we intend to hold it steady, but this is secondary to our wider ambitions to make the system fairer, easier to understand and regulate and thereby cheaper to run. This requires wholesale change in the differential burdens for different segments of society and from the principles on which it is currently calculated.

Tax is not just there to give an income to the state for them to spend on our behalf, but a tool by which both the economy and the environment can help be put on a more sustainable footing – which is in everyone’s interest. We need to return to these principles first and foremost.

We are less interested in tinkering at the edges of taxation than thoroughgoing reform of the system, so £20bn here or there is ridiculously small beer compared to what we are actually proposing. Your obsession with a couple of statements completely misses these vital points.

On the specific points we have said that £20bn is an achievable figure, not that it is set in stone, so here again you are failing to grasp the flexibility and responsiveness we are offering.

But (finally) this does not amount to nothing. Our reforms would fundamentally address the weaknesses of the current system, not only to mitigate against the consequences of the flaws which are coming to the surface, but also to reduce the likelihood and seriousness of their happening again.

by Oranjepan on January 7, 2009 at 8:24 am. Reply #

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