Thursday, June 08, 2006

Davey done good

After a longer-than-expected silence, I'll dip my toe gently back in the water by saying I thought Edward Davey did a good job on the Today programme this morning setting out the Liberal Democrats' new tax proposals.

As is often the case I agree with the posts by both Jonathan Calder and James Graham on this same subject, which I suppose is no surprise.

I only hope that the likes of James and Jonathan will state their views loudly and clearly over the next few months, because I fear that everyone from Lord Greaves to Liberator will step up to denounce the new policy as perfidious right-wingery, driven by what they see as the crypto-Thatcherite outlook of David Laws and Vincent Cable.

There are some Liberal Democrats who have slipped into a comfort zone of believing that radical Liberalism must be defined by support for higher taxation, higher public spending and as little role for the private sector in public services as possible. Clearly it's not big or clever to denounce such attitudes as unreconstructed 1970s social democracy, but I don't think such a description is unfair.

It is important that 'thinking radicals' within the party make their voices heard, so that this does not simply become stereotyped as a left vs right or, worse, social vs economic liberal debate.

For me it is good news that we are not making lazy assumptions that higher government spending automatically means better public services. It is also right that we should focus our policies on addressing distinctively liberal concerns such as the green agenda. It shows the aprty having a bit of intellectual confidence.

However, I share James Graham's concern that this policy sits ill with our commitment to a local income tax to replace council tax. I voted against the council tax policy when it was last debated by conference, although it hardly required a huge amount of soul searching to fall in behind it at the last general election. But it seems to me reasonable that there should be some form of property taxation, that this too has environmental benefits if it discourages such things as under-occupation of property and that we should be trying to spread the load of taxation, rather than concentrating more of it on income. But a lot of people within the party, particularly within local government, are very attached to the LIT policy. It will be a hard policy to ditch, even if ditching it is the right thing to do.

A special award for absurd hyperbole should go to Iain Dale for his description of the new Lib Dem policy as:

the most left wing tax proposals since Labour's 1983 "longest suicide note in history" manifesto.


cymrumark said...

Ian have you lost your calculator somewhere? The Lib dems are only cutting taxes for people on £50,000 pa people on low wages will pay more.

If you earn £10,000pa(full time minimum wage) you get £4 per week to help pay the extra transport and fuel costs which will result from the "green taxes". if you get £50k per annum you get £30 per week....enough to help keep the gas guzzler on the road.

The idea of shifting the responsibility for paying for the impact of global warming on to those of us earning minmum wage certainly has novelty value.

The package makes no mention of increases in benefits or pensions etc to help meet the extra costs. If these are to follow, as per previous Lib dem policy how will these be paid for?

If the conference defeats these proposals the leadership is badly damaged...if they go through the Lib dems lose lots of seats in rural areas.

Either way Cymrumark is happy :)

I have read the detailed proposals before you ask!

cymrumark said...

oops typo.....should have put "people on £10,000pa might be £7.00 per week better off....