Tax cuts riding high

Last Friday, Matthew Elliott wrote here about the events of the previous seven days as "The week that taxes took centre stage". Opinion polls, speeches from Cameron and Clegg and then the Crewe by-election, fought squarely on the issue of tax, had put taxation at the top of the political agenda.


The last week has seen that trend continue, with some remarkable developments.


Perhaps most remarkable was Denis MacShane's article in the Telegraph on Tuesday. The very fact that a Labour MP, and a former Minister at that, penned an article titled "The answer's obvious: cut taxes and spending" is a notable change. MacShane points out that tax cuts are not only popular they are absolutely achievable, and signs up to the argument that tax has a harmful impact on relatively low income workers who are now paying an unacceptable amount of their earnings to the Treasury.


The article is a signal that the label of taxcutters is one that the main parties are now fighting to have, rather than fighting to avoid as they were a few years ago. MacShane argues that it is a Left wing thing to save money, that it is a Gordon Brown principle to be prudent and that it is Labour who recognise the financial troubles of ordinary people and the power of letting people keep their money to spend as they wish.


Readers will not be surprised to note that this is not simply a pure, ideological debate - after all, MacShane didn't exactly display this taxcutting fervour when he was a Minister. There is of course a pragmatic motive, demonstrated in today's YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph. When asked

Taking all forms of taxation into account, do you think you pay too much in taxes, too little or about the right amount?

This was the result:


Too Much:  72%
Too Little: 2%
About right: 19%


That's a massive majority, which has risen sizeably, and explains why MacShane is touting these ideas publicly.


Anthony King's analysis in the Telegraph includes a remarkable figure, that 85% of people agree with the phrase

we have reached the limits of acceptable taxation and borrowing. With the rising cost of living, taxpayers can't take any more

which is taken from Cameron's speech of last week.


All this means that the message is clear: People want lower taxes and are willing to vote for them. For politicians, if they can tap that enthusiasm they will be well on the way to victory. For taxpayers, it can only be a good thing that the issue is riding so high and that the tide is flowing in the direction of tax cuts. Safe to say, we can expect to hear a lot more about tax cuts in the coming weeks.

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