Friday, April 18, 2008

House Points: Why Labour scrapped the 10p tax band

My House Points column from today's Liberal Democrat News.

Taxing times

David Blunkett has condemned the government's’s decision to scrap the 10 per cent income tax band and called on it to ease the impact on the low-paid. He has also accused the Treasury of getting its sums wrong when it told everyone that only a small number of people would be affected.

Estimates now suggest that anything up to five million low-paid workers will be hit. So how has a Labour government - a Labour government – got itself into this mess?

My researches suggest there are three reasons. The first is that the change allowed them to discomfort David Cameron during Gordon Brown’s last budget speech. Who can forget the grins on the government front bench as the chancellor announced that the basic rate of income tax was coming down to 20 per cent?

Remember too the jubilation behind him. I bet those Labour MPs now wish they had paid more attention to the way that tax cut was being funded.

The second reason is that Labour long ago gave up defending payments to adults, but they think the public will still support the welfare state if it is sold to them as ‘ending child poverty’. For everyone loves children. Even the Daily Mail loves children. At any rate, it loves very young children with fair hair. And if you don’t love children, maybe keeping their parents out of poverty will lessen the chance that, high on glue and SunnyD, they will twoc your new motor.

As for the childless poor, I am afraid they are just not appealing or dangerous enough.

And the third reason? There is no worse sin in Labour eyes than cynicism, and cynicism is the abiding sin of the older generation. We have heard so many promises before - and then seen them broken - that we find it difficult to take politicians at their own high estimation. In truth, there is little to be hoped of anyone born before Year Zero - 1994, that is, when Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party.

But the children! Brought up by Sure Start and enthused by the 2012 Olympics and the Millennium Dome, who knows what they could achieve?

So that is why millions of poor workers are now paying more in tax.

1 comment:

Paul Hulbert said...

We're only just recovering from the cynical, self-centred generation of Thatcher's Children (present company excepted, of course)

So now we've got Blair's Brats to deal with...