Left Out Liberal

A left-wing/liberal look at the UK's General Election of 2005.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Tax and Bore

As the discussions on whose economic plans will "lock in macroeconomic stability" continue, I can hear the yawns of a tired nation.

The interesting thing about all this is the fact that, in reality, no one is paying any attention to what figures are being bandied about. To be honest, I'm not even sure of calls of "black holes" make much difference either. The numbers are flying over everyone's heads, but the threats from Tony to "watch out for your interest rates" may land home more than anything. When it comes down to it, people are going to make a snap judgement based on who they think they can trust, rather than who they think are the competent economists.

If they think the 8 years of Labour have fattened their wallets, and they like that kind of thing, then they will continue voting Labour. One of the perhaps slightly concerning things I've been hearing during the campaign so far is the number of arch-Conservatives who voted Tory in 1997 and 2001 now saying they will vote Labour because they have been "surprised at how well the economy has been run". Go figure.

But I still think the impact of tax is being overplayed. In a fascinating poll for the Independent yesterday, NOP produced some surprising, and reassuring, results.

Only 25% of people want to cut taxes by £4bn, as the Tories promise. Out of Tory voters, this figure only rises to 30%. From both Labour and Lib Dem voters, only 18% of each want to cut tax, while 76% of each would prefer such money to be invested in the public services. Even 58% of Tory voters agree with that sentiment.

Then, when asked on the Lib Dems policy of a 50% tax band for £100,000+ earners, the figures show that 73% of all voters agree. 80% and 88% of Labour and Lib Dem voters respectively agree with this policy. And so do 61% of Conservative voters.

Yet, we are constantly being told to think by the Conservatives that the nation is drowning under an enormous Labour-inflicted tax burden; that they would come along and "ease the pain" of the country. It would seem that most people are reasonably pleased with the current position of the tax system, and tax cuts do not interest them... particularly as it looks certain that the Tory cuts will only go to pensioners anyway.

So the Tories could very well be barking up the wrong tree here. This is encouraging news, especially since I watched the Conservative party election broadcast last night and felt sick. The Labour one the night before was just as bad, naturally, but it reminded me that the country cannot afford a Tory government. And it can't afford another Blair government. What a predicament...

As for the imminent launch of Labour's manifesto today, I have no doubt that it's going to talk about the economy in great depth, and how Gordon Brown has Saved The Country when in reality a lot of the economic success is unplanned and unintentional. Economics is a funny thing. Politicians like to think they have it under control, but the market works in mysterious ways.

It's time to move on and discuss the real issues. Economic success is more often by accident than by design.


At 1:32 pm, April 13, 2005, Blogger Matt said...

Tax is a swear word - when people want to take notice. It's unfortunate that people only take notice if it directly affects them. The people who make me laugh are the people who say 'less tax , more spending!' Genius.

At 11:32 am, April 16, 2005, Blogger Eddie said...

All that bullshit about cutting waste has been tried on by opposition parties for decades. It hardly ever works.

The worry this time is that all three parties have factored in achieving the cut in "waste" into their spending plans. Whoever wins, we lose, as that Alien versus Predator film said. All of them are going to find black holes appearing.


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