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