Thursday, July 31, 2008

Can the Lib Dems win Labour seats while promising to cut taxes?

Not for the first time, the comments on a Spectator Coffee House posting about the Lib Dems are far more sensible than the original posting.

The other day Peter Hoskin wrote:

Nick Clegg's declaration that the Lib Dems will now concentrate on snaring 50 paticularly vulnerable Labour seats at the next election ... is a puzzling one.

... the potential's there for Clegg's new tactic to further divide the party, and perhaps even weaken their election efforts. You see, this is the same Nick Clegg who sold the Lib Dems as "tax-cutting" party only a couple of weeks ago - one assumes in an effort to nab votes from the Tories. But now the priority is nabbing votes from Labour, and Clegg will surely have to take his party leftwards in order to achieve that.

Of course, the sizeable Lib Dem left will be delighted. But - as James Kirkup writes over at Three Line Whip - the right-leaning elements of the party will be less than amused. The general feeling, though, will be confusion: "Which direction is Clegg taking us in? Where will we be next week?"

The more I think about it, the more sure I am that there is no contradiction between promising to cut taxes and aiming to win Labour seats. As one of the commenters says, tax cuts are attractive to people on low incomes who are struggling to make ends meet.

And another commenter is right when he says:
I think the claims about confusion etc say more about the prejudices of the author of this piece than about the actual events they are reporting on.
Those prejudices seem to be rooted in an outdated class-war view of politics. The Tories favour low taxes and low spending, which is good for their class. Labour promises high taxes and high spending, which is good for its people.

Presumably Hoskin believes that David Cameron's leadership is a sort of con trick designed to persuade enough Labour voters to vote against their own interests to allow a Conservative government back into power. It is not a very edifying view of politics.

Thoughtful Conservatives and Liberal Democrats realise that statist solutions are hugely expensive and hopelessly inefficient, and that the burden of paying for them falls upon people who can ill afford it.

One difference between them is that Lib Dems want to ease that burden on the poor, while the Conservatives are far more interested in cutting tax for the wealthy.

6 comments:

Liberal Neil said...

Your final sentence has it right.

The current tax system is most unfair to those on average incomes and below.

Positioning the Lib Dems on the side of the people struggling with rising bills and an unfair tax system is a smart move.

Jennie said...

"Presumably Hoskin believes that David Cameron's leadership is a sort of con trick designed to persuade enough Labour voters to vote against their own interests to allow a Conservative government back into power."

To be fair, that's my view too; I just don't subscribe to the rigid notions of left and right that everyone in journalism seems to, and think that social liberalism is more important than economic policy. Which is why I could never, EVER vote Tory, but am not worried at all about our party's "swing to the right".

crewegwyn said...

Can the Lib Dems take seats from Labour by cutting taxes ?

Yes.

[ I took a council seat off Labour in 1983 and have held it ever since - and higher rates/ Poll Tax / Council tax wasn't part of the deal ! ]

Peter Welch said...

Of course every labour voter really yearns to pay higher taxes.

Anonymous said...

"The Tories favour low taxes and low spending, which is good for their class. Labour promises high taxes and high spending, which is good for its people."

And the Lib Dems, apparently, promise low taxes and high spending. The perfect solution!

Anonymous said...

The policy is, as I understand it, is to cut the overall tax burden, but target the proceeds to low to middle income earners; so the policy is redistributive.