Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The loneliness of the long-distance tax-cutter

Polly Toynbee writes, in advance of John Redwood’s ‘Economic Competitiveness’ Tory policy group report:

[David] Cameron is wisely staying away for the launch. [George] Osborne, as ever more reckless and openly rightwing, will stand beside Redwood, welcoming the review for showing "how we can deliver a low-tax, lower-regulation competitive economy".

And Redwood himself seems confident of a warm reaction:

"I think David Cameron has read it and George Osborne has certainly read it and worked with me on it and I am sure they support the general direction."

Osborne is certainly more openly rightwing than Cameron: you can often see the visceral glee in his eyes at the prospect of cuts when he talks about tax, regulation and public services. And he’s notably described a flat income tax as “a very exciting idea”.

Cameron would never endorse such a thing. Not any more, at least.

As a backbencher a few years ago, he condemned one of Gordon Brown’s budgets, backing the flat tax and yearning for tax credits to be scrapped:

He could simplified all our tax rates and produced one band, somewhere around 20%, that applied to spending, saving, capital gains and income. Imagine the serene simplicity. …
I long for a chancellor who stands up and introduces a Budget which abolishes all of Brown's endless reliefs and credits - and uses the money to cut tax rates at the same time. "My Budget has no title", the peroration would go, "it's your money, spend it as you choose." Am I alone?

Nowadays, of course, Cameron avoids talk of “up front” tax cuts, which has discombobulated many in his party. But give him time…

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