Understanding Tory Finking on Tax

Guido really likes Danny Finkelstein, he is amusing company, always courteous and a little spiky – in a good way.  He is nevertheless the poster boy for all that is wrong with Tory policy ambitions on tax and spending.

Whenever Tim Montgomerie, Fraser Nelson or Guido have had a go at him he responds in kind.  Invariably we have failed to understand the subtlety of his argument, overlooked some caveat or research data.  Danny usually says he agrees with our end objectives, just not our timing.  Fink insists that he is by preference a tax cutter, yet he never seems to advocate tax cuts within a time-frame.

So a few questions for Danny:

  1. This question is about the politics of tax cutting – if, as you argue, voters don’t believe specifics about tax and spend, does precision matter less than conveying a sense of direction?
  2. Do you actually believe that, all things being equal, lower tax economies are higher growth economies?
  3. You say “I believe strongly in lower tax. But I want proper tax-cutting, based on real reform of the scope and operation of the state.” Presumably you want a smaller state.  What then is your broad aspiration for the size of the state expressed as a proportion of nominal GDP?  How many years do you think it might take a Conservative government(s) to get us from where we are now, to where you want to be?

Guido thinks it is important to understand Danny’s political aspirations and what his underlying thinking  is because he is the Cameroon who most publicly makes the case against committing to tax cuts.  He gives cover to a somewhat sheepish Tory Treasury team afraid to make the case for growth.

Like a shell-shocked First World War veteran Danny is suffering post-traumatic stress from years in opposition sat in the CRD trench with George Osborne.  This is 2010, not 2001 Danny, this time the enemy will be defeated.  It is possible to not just advance mere inches towards dividing lines as a result of endless tactical re-positioning, but to drive out your enemy from the territory, establishing and holding a new ideological frontline.  The poverty of Tory ambition is palpable, it is not enough to defeat the enemy, capturing their ground only to continue governing in much the the same way.  Guido suspects Fraser Nelson’s upcoming Keith Joseph Memorial Lecture* will call not just for the capture of the enemy’s dividing lines, put to push the enemy back to Kirkcaldy once and for all.

*February 3, Centre for Policy Studies, Fraser Nelson “Winning is not Enough”.

Gordon Reported to Standards Commissioner
Over Second Slush “Fund With No Name”

It seems Gordon was not content with just the Smith Institute as his personal play thing and slush fund. Perhaps the most damaging allegation by Peter Watt yet, has been the emergence of Gordon’s secret “fund with no name“. Watt accuses Brown of siphoning donations to the tune of fifty grand a year to his own private polling fund, the only record of which was a tatty old exercise book. How very Gordon.

As regular readers will remember, when the Charity Commission reported that The Smith Institute, despite their many failings in terms of political neutrality were not paying the salary of Gordon’s private yank pollster Bob Shrum, Guido will admit to some confusion as to how Brown had managed to wriggle his way out of this. It now appears that Shrum could well have been paid out of this second, secret “fund with no name.” Whatever this fund was being used for it was breaking the rules for personal benefits that MPs must declare. The rules state that MPs must “provide information of any financial interest or other material benefit which a Member receives which might reasonably be thought by others to influence his or her actions.” Unsurprisingly a complaint has been put in to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards:

Guido reckons there is a very strong case for an investigation into this murky secretive fund.

The Toughest Job in Politics

It is apparently “Blue Monday”, according to shrinks today is the most depressing day of the year due to the combination  of factors. Apparently the weather, debt level (personal rather than national), time since Christmas, time since failing new year’s resolutions (Mrs Fawkes hasn’t noticed the disappearing whiskey bottles yet), low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action. Each year lazy tabloid hacks get a cheap story out of the day, but it must be noted that “Blue Monday” is going to be particularly hard for one woman.

Helen Scott Lidgett is an old friend of Sarah Brown, they used to work together at Sarah’s PR company and then at Brunswick, she has now been bought into the bunker for what must be the toughest job in both politics and PR – giving Gordon an intensive pre-election makeover.  It’s going to take more than airbrushing to turn the Prime Mentalist into someone that can actually be allowed out to meet the general public.

Her predecessor, Nicola Burdett (Sion Simon’s other half), was last heard of recuperating from suspected Nokia-related injuries in Barbados. Guido hopes Helen has the patience of a saint and an ability to duck…

Quote of the Day

A  leading minister told Jackie Ashley….

“We are fucked. We are so fucked, completely and utterly fucked.”

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View



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Quote of the Day

Labour’s Austin Mitchell muses on the campaign:

“What’s the problem? No use pointing at the leader. Too late to change and unnecessary for Miliband is doing well at Question Time. His problem is connecting with the real world. He doesn`t speak people and his protective team of naive kids are playing West Wing rather than letting the leader relate to real people. We could point at the party, shrunk in numbers and enthusiasm because everything, from policy formulation to candidate selection, comes top down rather than bubbling up from below so campaigning becomes the opium of members deprived of any real role, though they`re not even sure what they’re campaigning about, with or for, but its role is marginal.”

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