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Monday, April 07, 2008

Those revolting Labour MPs

Yes, I know but I could not resist the headline. The serious point though is by what strange twist of fate have we managed to reach the point where the Conservatives are arguing for a more progressive tax system, whilst a Labour Government, yes a Labour Government, has introduced tax changes that penalise the lower paid members of our society?

The Guardian reports that David Cameron is to lead a campaign to overturn the government's decision to abolish the 10p starting rate of tax. So far so opportunistic:

At a news conference, the Conservative leader accused the government of "hitting some of Britain's poorest families" with the tax changes, which come into effect this week. He claimed that ministers were "kicking people when they're down".

The Tories have produced a leaflet saying how much workers could lose from the abolition of the 10p rate and they intend to make this a major issue in their campaign for next month's local elections.

They will be telling us next that they have a coherent tax policy. In fact what the Tories actually have is a rolling bandwagon. Still, they do know how to twist the knife and judging by the reaction of some Labour MPs the brothers and sisters are in some considerable pain over this budget change.

Frank Field is not an MP to hide his feelings. He said today that the tax changes "strike at the very essence of what the Labour party is still about: that's protecting the lowest paid". He told Sky News that as well as taking money from the poor, the abolition of the 10p rate was reducing incentives to work. "It's a double hammer-blow."

The main question is why it took both the Conservatives and Labour twelve months to spot this faux pas by Gordon Brown and to try and do something about it. Maybe they should have been paying more attention to Sir Menzies Campbell when he spoke in the House of Commons after last year's budget after all.
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