"Elegant retreat" very welcome

Today's Telegraph gives a very welcome report that the Conservatives may not match Labour's spending plans beyond 2010-11:

David Cameron is prepared to drop his pledge to match Labour's spending increases after the next election to pave the way for tax cuts under a Conservative government, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

The Tory leader, under mounting internal pressure to stretch his party's lead over Labour, has conceded that it could be impossible to deliver tax cuts if he sticks to Gordon Brown's commitments.

An "elegant retreat" has been discussed at the highest level of the party after intense pressure from MPs and grassroot supporters for more eye-catching policy initiatives, particularly on tax...

The latest evidence from a batch of recent polls shows that the Conservatives' lead has halved from nine points to four.

The party needs a double-figure advantage to have any chance of a majority at the next election.

Thatcherite Tory MPs blame the slip on Mr Cameron's failure to build on the popularity of last October's announcements to raise the threshold on inheritance tax to £1 million and scrap stamp duty for first-time buyers...

...they agreed in 2006 to match Labour's massive increases in spending until 2010-11.

Now, however, with the economy in the doldrums, the Tory leadership realises that if it renews the pledge beyond that time, into a period when they could be back in power, it would wreck any prospect of tax cuts.

Quite right. Matching Labour's spending plans was always economic lunacy. Taxpayers will be hoping that at least one party will be able to offer relief from the record tax burden at the next election. As our YouGov poll of 2,000 adults found in August last year, 64 per cent believe that "the government spends too much and therefore taxes too much". The votes are there to be won.   

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