Guido is an unashamed tax cutter who prefers to cut the taxes of the poorest by raising thresholds and cutting the basic rate. Nevertheless the Inheritance Tax cut promise was a welcome tactical success in that it contributed to Brown bottling the election in 2007, the strategic mistake that doomed his premiership. The News of the World has been given a steer that it will be shelved (presumably by Andy Coulson, who according to Guido’s sources at the Screws, “acts like he is still the boss”). Also shelved will be the commitments to cut Stamp Duty and to introduce a modest but symbolically important £20-a-week tax break for married couples.
It will be spun that the dire fiscal state left to them by Brown will prevent the Tories bringing in any tax reduction. The expected onslaught from Labour on all these tax breaks will be more easily deflected if they take a “only when we can afford it” stance. The trouble is, unless they slash the budget deficit they won’t be able to balance the budget in first term. So when will the Tories be able to afford to reduce taxes? What a depressing poverty of ambition, no bright new dawn, just a fiscal fog.
This timid “give no ammunition to Brown and Balls” approach was first publicly advocated by Policy Exchange’s Neil O’Brien last month, he argued “Dropping the inheritance tax cut will earn the Tories the right to tell the public the terrible truth about the debt disaster.” The public already knows the terrible truth, there is only one way out of debt, you cut spending, there is only one way to grow the economy sustainably, supply side reforms and cutting taxes. Nuancing the politics might spin well on the comment pages of the Guardian, it won’t bring jobs and economic growth. Which is more important?