New Tory ad campaign tries to claim credit for Lib Dem delivery of tax-cuts for the low-paid

by Stephen Tall on April 6, 2013

One Coalition policy, above all, polls strongly with the British public: lifting the income tax threshold to take the low-paid out of income tax altogether and to give a meaningful tax-cut to the lowest-paid.

lib dem manifesto tax cutAs the Lib Dems have never been shy of reminding people, it was the party’s top priority at the 2010 general election. And it’s being implemented now because the Lib Dems are in government.

The Tories, it seems, have, a bit belatedly, noticed that cutting the taxes of the low-paid is quite a savvy thing to do. So, the Spectator tells us, they’ve launched their own posters claiming the credit for this Lib Dem initiative.

Such is politics. It’s worth recalling what the Tory tax pledges were in 2010:

    tories low paid poster

  1. reverse Labour’s proposed increase in National Insurance contributions (what the Tories termed the ‘jobs tax’);
  2. raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1m;
  3. freeze council tax for two years;
  4. tax breaks for married couples;
  5. reduce corporation tax.

No mention at all of the personal allowance.

But overall I think we should be reasonably relaxed about such things: that the Lib Dems have established this distinctive policy in the political mainstream such that both Labour and the Tories are trying to muscle in is (as I’ve argued before) good for its long-term health.

Besides I suspect it’s going to take more than a few posters for the Tories to persuade voters that this was their idea. Their decision last year to cut the top-rate of tax for those earning more than £150,000 from 50% to 45% is the tax policy they’re best-known for (also, incidentally, absent from their 2010 manifesto).

Almost single-handedly George Osborne’s tax-cut destroyed seven years of his and David Cameron’s modernising attempts to re-brand the Tory party as ‘fluffy’ enough to be trusted with public services. And much of the Tory rhetoric since then — on the economy, on Europe, on welfare — has re-inforced all the old negative ‘nasty party’ stereotypes. Trying to appropriate the Lib Dems’ tax-cuts to make up for it… well, it’s a simple case of too little, too late.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.