Tax & Spend

So far during this election campaign it has all been a little predictable. We generally know the strengths and weaknesses of the parties, their poll ratings and the arguments they have been making for months. The slogans are clear and the priorities set accordingly.

Clearly this ongoing blog during the campaign comes from me as an ex-Labour & co-operative MP so obviously has a fair deal of bias, but I have tried to help out readers with a fair deal of objectivity about what I have seen happening in front of me as an ‘elder statesman’- as somebody described me recently.

Yesterday the unfunded £8bn ‘promise’ for the NHS from the Tories threw me (and apparently everybody else) as it defies almost all of the discipline they have all shown for the last year. They entered the election on a Tory competence ticket v Labour Chaos. They would pounce on every minor potential spending commitment with glee and tried to conflate this into a £3000 tax bill from Labour! But as nothing seemed to be working in their favour they seem to have thrown this agenda away with less than 4 weeks to go.

Their other problem as all pols show is they are seen as the ‘Party of the rich’ still, despite early attempts by Cameron to modernise the party at the start of his leadership. So you can see the £8bn promise might be seen to help soften their image – at the cost of their economic competence lead in the polls. As George Eaton in his NS column argued, perhaps they felt their led was so strong on the economy they could afford to lose a few % points.

But then the latest pitch is on an inheritance tax break for the top 6%

The way the papers write up Inheritance Tax, and the way the Tory poster has you believe it’s ordinary families that pay the tax.. but as this excellent article from the Independent IFS states this will be another tax break for the wealthy – thereby only reinforcing the notion that the Tories are for the ‘Rich’. Where the Tories gamble may be right here though is that in fact most people assume they will be caught by IHT, and therefore people think they might future proof themselves. So this is a bit about aspiration and hopefully most people not being fully aware of the thresholds. I regard myself as pretty well off but unless something dramatic happens I don’t expect I will get caught by the current thresholds! – IFS article!

So I have been able to offer hopefully some useful insight into the campaigns and through my links on my twitter and facebook accounts hopefully lots of useful impartial checks on the claims being made by the main parties as well as up to date polling figures to give you a sense of who will ‘win’ this election. But I hate to admit that I am still slightly at a loss to explain properly the switch in the Tory campaign. I know many are seeing it as a panic reaction and I would love to see it this way – but with over 3 weeks to go there is surely many more chances to turn things around for them. I keep thinking there is some Master Plan and creative strategy I am missing here. I keep thinking House of Cards and a great trap? But I still can’t see what it is!

I guess at least for the Tories it has gained the attention away from Labour. I can’t really remember hearing much about their plans for the last few days – something about police numbers, midwives and careers. All a little worthy but dull. Perhaps that was the agenda – but surely a very high risk strategy is being played out.

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