Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The taxation debate

As every other Lib Dem blogger has already reported, the amendments proposed to the taxation motion were all lost. In particular, Evan Harris's attempt to retain the 50p higher rate was defeated.

Given that the two sides agreed on so much, it is hard to see how this ever blew up into the great row that it was widely presented as being. Even so, there are a couple of lessons we should learn from the affair.

The first is that Ming's advisers should refrain from David Steel's old tactic of briefing the press that a particular vote is a test of the leader's authority and credibility, and then using the resulting threat of bad publicity as a way of bullying people into voting the way they want. If they are not confident of winning over a hall full of Liberal Democrat activists then it is hard to see what chance they have of convincing the voters.

The second is that those who dissent from the current direction of party policy need to do some serious thinking. It isn't enough to accept what is proposed and then add something like a 50p tax rate on top of it, like a cherry on a cake someone else has baked. They need to come up with something more substantial themselves.

Incidentally, Phil Willis seemed to think that the Liberal Democrats should stand for more and more public spending for ever and ever. Given that I am becoming increasingly sceptical of the extent to which much public spending helps the poor, I am less convinced of his case than I used to be.

It would be nice if the radicals were more, er, radical.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Public spending can be seen as a panacea, but throwing money at problems is Blairite government by knee jerk.
The big opportunity for Libs is to attack corporate tax avoidance. When we get Murdoch and others paying their whack maybe we can invest in health, transport and education without squeezing the poor til the pips squeak.