Monday, 20 August 2007

The Weekend Poliblogs 18th & 19th August 2007

Right on tax

John Redwood and George Osborne may be engaged in a debate, but the Conservatives are still the party of lower taxation.

Tim Montgomerie

The politics of Planet Osborne

Fascinating post by Tim Montgomerie on Comment is Free. He starts by endorsing (as I do) the need for a low tax economy and then concludes:

Daniel Finkelstein

Osborne: There'll be no Tory promise to reduce the overall burden of taxation at the next General Election

I'm just back from the press conference where the Redwood-Wolfson report was launched. The focus of journalists' questions was on tax policy but the report contains many other important economy-boosting recommendations. Read about them here and read George Osborne's full remarks at the launch.

Conservative Home

Tories pursue social justice by abolishing tax 94% of people do not pay

After much heavy trailing, the Conservative policy group on Economic Competitiveness, today finally published its report.

The headline that the Conservatives are pushing is a call for Inheritance Tax to be abolished, on the grounds that too many middle-income earners are now paying it.

Jeremy Hargreaves

Inheritance Tax - We Should Keep It

Redwood ... spent four lines in his report Freeing Britain to Compete, arguing the case for abolitionof "Inheritance tax "

...(IHT) is not a popular tax. This has become even more true as the swift rise of house prices in much of the country has resulted in many people, who could not in any sense be described as rich, suddenly finding that their family will be liable to pay quite substantial amounts upon their estate. We recommend the abolition of inheritance tax." Some time ago Nick Drew forecast that Brown would do it as it is a small revenue tax but a high profile injustice.


A tipping point on tax

I aspire to make this the last ToryDiary post on tax for a few days but I make no promises! There is a leader in one of today's newspapers that makes some very interesting points on tax. Here are a few quotations from it:

Conservative Home

Redwood’s tax plans don’t amount to a killer Tory punch

‘It’s the economy, stupid.” So read the sign on President Bill Clinton’s desk to remind him not to repeat the mistake of the man he defeated. George Bush Sr was thought to have spent too much effort on foreign policy, to the neglect of the home base. But the triumph of Gordon Brown is that the economy has hardly featured as an issue in British politics since Labour was elected a decade ago. Last week the Conservatives tried to revive it.

Michael Portillo

EXCLUSIVE: Daily Mirror Caught Trying to Infiltrate Conservative HQ

Well, I know while the cats away the mice usually play, but the Daily Mirror has really excelled itself this week. I can exclusively reveal that they have been caught out trying to infiltrate the chairman's office at Conservative Campaign Headquarters.

Iain Dale

Daily Mirror caught trying to infiltrate Tory HQ

Well what can I say about this over at Iain's blog. Apparently, a Daily Mirror hack called Emily Miller tried to infiltrate the Conservative Party and get herself her a job. She was caught out when someone in CCHQ became suspicious and, as Iain notes, "CCHQ did a computer check and discovered that her Hotmail account had been accessed from a Daily Mirror computer".

Dizzy Thinks

How dim is the Daily Mirror ?

The story about The Daily Mirror trying to infiltrate CCHQ on Iain Dale's blog is slightly disturbing, but also highlights an incompetence in the Mirror which leaves you questioning whether the Mirror can be trusted on any issue.
I am sure the Mirror thought this was a great wheeze, but choosing a journalist whose name was already known, and putting an e-mail address on the application form that could be traced to the Mirror is so dim as to make you think the Mirror wanted to be caught.

Norfolk Blogger

Ideas to improve the health service

In a HSJ survey one wag wrote that his biggest fear for the NHS under Gordon Brown was that he would “try to improve it”
Sadly the wag’s wisdom has gone unnoticed and now this emerges. It takes us across to the Health Foundation, another quango. (I can make the diagnosis as Dame Carol Black is on its board.)

Dr Rant

Give us wings!

Ignore the Heathrow protesters: manmade flight is liberating and enlightening, and that's why so many of us do it.

Brendan O’Neill

Osborne's embrace

The shadow chancellor seems keen to endorse John Redwood's backward-looking taxation plans - it's a mistake.

Tom Clark

Behind the scenes with the Economic Policy Review

I was somewhat surprised to read about the “Redwood Report” in the papers. It was the Conservative party’s Economic Policy Review. A Steering Group and several Sub groups worked away for more than a year. The final proposals were the result of collective discussion between Group members, and in some cases included discussion with Shadow cabinet members responsible for particular areas.

John Redwood

Could withdrawal from Iraq boost chances of an early election ?

According to the Independent, the military have conceded that there is nothing further to be gained from Britain's presence in Iraq and that we should "get out now".
This differs strongly from what the army have been saying for months and make one wonder if thew army has, in the past, been saying what tony Blair wanted it to say, and with a change at the top, now perhaps asking for the truth rather than the propaganda, the armed forces have finally told Gordon Brown what everyone else has known for some time, tat being, we should get out of Iraq with as much haste as possible.

Norfolk Blogger

Inheritance Tax: Tory gain

The reaction from the opposition has been predictable, but I'm afraid the Tories are right about this one. Inheritance Tax should go, or at least be radically reformed, not necessarily for all the reasons John Redwood says it should but because, thanks to the phenomenon of fiscal drag, it has basically become a regressive tax that penalises people who by no stretch of the imagination can be considered rich.

Paul Linford

Is there any value on the general election markets?

For gamblers like me who like to bet short-term in long term markets the big question is what happens if polls start showing a lessening of Labour’s lead. Is that likely to happen and if so when?

Political Betting

Should Deborah advise Gord to gamble on October?

Is there the evidence to make the toughest call in British politics?

This is Deborah Mattinson, joint chief executive of Opinion Leader Research, a pollster for the Labour party for the past two decades and the person who will advise Brown on whether to go for an early general election.

Political Betting

Brown should call early election

Speculation continues that Gordon Brown might be considering calling a snap general election for this autumn. He should.

Yesterday the Observer reported that Brown had called for “a detailed blueprint with 'all options' to give him the opportunity of calling an election within weeks.” Whilst acknowledging that next spring still remains the most likely date, they cite factors in favour of an early poll

Barcharters Anonymous

Should this person even have the vote?

I found it scary but salutary, reading this from a brain-dead correspondent on Dale's blog. The writer unfavourably compared Fox News (which no-one is forced to pay for or watch) with the BBC (for which one is obliged to pay a poll tax or go to jail if you watch it). Having read this a couple of times I can only conclude that the writer is either below GCSE age and in need of better teaching, or works for the BBC.


Cutting to the chase

A few things that bug me about this whole tax-cutting debate…

Coffee House

Will Prezza Spill the beans?

John Prescott is getting £300,000 for his memoirs which will be called Prezza: Pulling No Punches and ghosted by Hunter Davies. Davies, having worked on the Wayne Rooney and Paul Gascoigne autobiographies, will probably find Prescott a refreshingly intelligent subject.

Coffee House

Matthew Parris: At least one solid, distinctively and obviously Conservative policy should be found (but don't retreat on the huggy, green stuff)

DC should not be spooked by talk of an early general election. However strongly Brown might enter such a contest, elections have lives of their own and this Prime Minister is eminently de-railable. Whenever the contest comes, DC should aim off: aim to win, of course, but remember that the best result would be to wing Brown then let Britain see him flap around for a year or two with a shrunk or non-existent majority.

Conservative Home

ICM: 24% of Labour voters could desert over EU referendum

A new ICM poll in the Daily Mail this morning suggest that nearly a quarter of all Labour voters could desert if the Brown government continues to refuse to hold a referendum on the planned EU constitutional changes.

A total of 82% of those questioned said the revised treaty should be ratified by a referendum and not by parliament. Amongst declared Labour supporters 80% backed the referendum idea with 54% of them believing that the EU already “has too much power over the lives of British people.”

Political Betting

Could Europe lose Labour a quarter of their support?

A new ICM poll in the Daily Mail shows 82% of people think the revised EU treaty should be ratified by referendum, rather than left to Parliament. As David Boothroyd rightly pointed out in the comments here over the weekend, that doesn’t necessarily mean much as polls invariably tell pollsters they like referendums on nearly anything you care to name: it is almost the equivalent of asking “do you think your opinion on X should count?” - how many people’s answer will be “Crikey no, I’m a complete numbskull, don’t give me a vote”.

Polling Report

Smoking ban side-effects

So one evening shortly before the start of recess, this young man and his friends are enjoying a few drinks in a bar in Soho, when he sees one of his new “smoking friends” shambling up Greek Street wearing sunglasses. Of course, he was just about to say hello when the MP disappeared into the kind of doorway that any reasonable person might think was the entrance to a brothel. Or else he might be keen on life drawing and in search of “MODELS” for those purposes.

Recess Monkey

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