The Tax Battle that Led to the Bottle

Propeller-Head Wonk Watch: As Polly howls in pain this morning at the Brown/Darling rhetorical U-turn on tax, which she correctly recognises has razed the ideological ground ahead of Brown as he retreats, who should we credit for her torment. Osborne? Well yes, but why did he select inheritance tax and stamp duty as tax cutting priorities?

Matthew Elliott’s Tax Payers Alliance relentlessly highlighted the unpopularity of these particular taxes in the non-ideological language that practical politicians understand. They commissioned an ICM poll in August 2006 revealing that “significantly raising the threshold for inheritance tax, or abolishing it” was the second most popular cut after cutting Council tax. This September their YouGov poll confirmed that inheritance tax was perceived as being the most unfair tax of all and was the third most popular tax to be reduced, marginally behind lowering council tax and raising the tax-free personal allowance.

The poll findings made a deep impression on the Shadow Treasury team, proving that tax cuts could once again be a popular vote winner, giving Osborne the confidence to make the announcement that has turned around Tory fortunes. As Osborne takes the battle glory, remember who fired the opening shots…




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