...a blog by Richard Flowers

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Day 1983: Green Switch Pushes the Right Buttons


Sir Mr the Merciless is back with a vengeance this week.

First, he actually manages the rare trick of winning at Prime Minister's Questions (a game like Grandmother's Footsteps played with live ammo).

Then, he makes a sweeping new policy statement that even gets the top headlines on the Today Programme!

It should not really come as any surprise that Sir Mr the Merciless has announced that the time has come to stop increasing the tax burden. The Liberal Democrats have, for several general elections now, been working very hard on getting and keeping their reputation as the party that talks honestly about TAX.

Tax, we say, is a necessary evil in order to let the government help people to achieve their goals: education opens the door to opportunity; the health service frees people from suffering under the weight of illness; pensions reward people with dignity in retirement.

After YEARS of the Conservatories under-investing in our nation we were the ones who HONESTLY said: we will need to ask the public for a little bit more to put things right. First it was the "penny on income tax" and then it was the "50p rate for those earning over £100,000".

But since then, the Labour has taken the tax money even though they didn't ask for it!

Mr Frown put a penny on National Insurance, which turns out to be EXACTLY THE SAME as putting a penny on the basic AND higher rates of Income Tax (which is actually even MORE money than the Liberal Democrats asked for – did I mention that Mr Frown took without asking.)

Mr Frown has also been being a bit SNEAKY with the ALLOWANCES, not putting them up quite as much as inflation. This means that more and more people at the LOWEST end of the scale find that they are paying tax. Mr Frown has had to introduce a complicated system of TAX CREDITS to make up for poor people being caught by his TAX COLLECTORS.

So it is fair enough that the Liberal Democrats now HONESTLY say: "thank you very much, you have given enough money. It is time we saw that it was being used properly."

Sir Mr the Merciless's PLAN is to shift the burden of taxation away from those people on low incomes altogether, and instead target the taxes at people who are better off and at people who pollute the environment.

The Independent said this was "a bid for higher ground", calling the tax proposals "impressive".

The Telegraph described them as a "sudden attack of sanity", although that seems to be because they are under the impression that Sir Mr the Merciless is doing this in order to get into a coalition with Mr Balloon.

The Times called them "Bolder, Smarter" in the hopes that it is the first step to REDUCING the total tax burden.

Meanwhile, the Guardian found Sir Mr the Merciless "an unlikely Robin Hood figure" and expressed some trepidation at this step away from soaking the rich.

Even the Sun found something nice to say!

Although, Mr Balloon's baldy friend Nick "Mate of Dave" Robinson has come out with a fairly blatant ATTACK on his own BBC weblog.

Hopefully we can look forward to him showing how IMPARTIAL he is with a piece challenging Mr Balloon's Party next:

Questions to the Conservatories

1. What are your policies?
2. What are your policies?
3. What are your policies?
4. What are your policies?

And one final question, given the sharply marked contrast between Liberal Democrat serious minded policy development and Conservatory superficial spin: what ARE your policies?

At his own press conference (once he had finished gloating about blowing up yet another person in Iraq) Lord Blairimort dismissed the new Liberal policies saying he could not see how a cut in Income tax could be paid for by raising green taxes.

Perhaps he is just too tired to do maths; maybe he should ask Mr Frown to help him. Come to think of it, Mr Frown has probably told him that taxes are paid for by the pixie gold at the end of the rainbow (!)

[Blairimort: and just because… we have not found… any evidence… yet… that does not mean… that the intelligence about the pixie gold… was inaccurate… I-know-what-I'm-talking-about glower… £7,000-hairdo hair… where-did-I-put-all-those-receipts worry lines…]

Reaction from the (ahem, OTHER) Conservatories has been understandably CONFUSED. They SO want to get along without having to have any policies at all and LOOK OUT! Here comes Sir Mr the Merciless with a POLICY announcement that only goes and OUTFLANKS THEM on two fronts at the same time:

Front Number One: Mr Balloon's "I'm so green" looks a bit pale if he won't match the Liberal promise of action on green tax

Front Number Two: Mr Balloon's tax policy looks a bit half-hearted if the Liberals can offer up the kind of tax cut his gang likes and he's left umm-ing and ah-ing.

Only the other week, shadow minister for pocket money, Mr Boy George Osborne, promised cross-his-heart and hope-not-to-be-reshuffled that he would never, ever, ever promise to lower taxes.

This left another of Mr Balloon's friends, Michael Gove, furiously rowing back on Question Time saying that of course what Mr Boy George had meant to say was: "we promise there will be tax cuts we just promise we won't promise them, and that's a promise!"

Many Conservatories have actually PRAISED Sir Mr the Merciless's new proposals today because they do promise Income Tax cuts. Perhaps they think that this means that Mr Boy George will be able to quickly drop his own promise not to promise.

Daddy Alex has been saying for a while – in fact since before the last general election – that the Liberal Democrats should be pushing much more the GAINERS as well as the LOSERS from our policies about tax. In particular, when we promised that GREEN TAX would be tax neutral that meant there would be ways to REDUCE people's other tax.

It had almost become that we were trying SO HARD to be HONEST that we had put on a HAIR SHIRT and were beating ourselves up to admit who would be worse off, when what we needed to be doing was TRUMPETING that there would be lots of people BETTER OFF.

Fortunately, that message seems to have got through now.

I think most people have come to the conclusion that the government takes enough money now, and to take more will start to hurt the economy and waste all the good that has been done during Mr Frown's time in charge.

Sir Mr the Merciless has shown that the Liberal Democrats are paying attention and listening to what people think. It's not just a question of giving them what they want, though, it's a question of giving them what is FAIR.

Fair tax. Green Tax.

A better answer.


Not to blow my own trunk or anything, but it looks like I'm not the only one to think Mr Balloon was just a bit SILLY to blame Radio 1 for crime.

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