Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Budget talk and press management

Impressive political manoeuvring from Labour – they have managed to ask a questions of the Conservatives that they will find difficult to answer. In Nick Robinson’s view:
[A] new 50% top tax rate for those earning over £150,000 is designed to put the Tories on the spot - do they back it or pledge to reverse it? Since it will be introduced before the next election, they will have to say.

If they attempt to swerve this political trap they will face criticism from some in their own party and in the Tory press who will demand that they protect "our people".
He continued
Stealth tax rises are out. Overt tax hikes on the rich are in.

• In the name of fairness.
• To cheer Labour's supporters.
• To wrong-foot their opponents.
• To distract the media.
• Oh, and to raise money (although the Institute of Fiscal Studies has questioned whether increasing the top tax rate will raise much).

Their hope is that tomorrow's headlines will be dominated by questions about Labour's breach of their manifesto pledge and that the Tories will be asked for months to come whether they will reverse that tax rise or not.

What they know is that opinion polls show that higher taxes on the rich are now popular in the way they once were not.

What they also know is that David Cameron and George Osborne will come under pressure from the Tory press and Tory bloggers to promise to reverse this measure.

What they also know is that that is a more comfortable place to be politically than answering questions about why the chancellor's just confirmed the deepest recession, the fastest rise in unemployment and the biggest rise in borrowing since the war.

stealth spending cuts have replaced stealth tax rises as the principal tool of the Treasury. […]

stats suggests that that headline grabbing rise in the top rate of tax will actually raise less than increased fuel duty (up 2p a litre in September) and the squeeze on public spending.
And something that will not be too high on the news agenda - the terror plot that probably wasn't.

For more on the 2009 budget see

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