The papers are full of kites flying various stealth taxes that Rishi is rumoured to be considering. This game is a pre-budget ritual, anonymous sources float horror stories in the papers about the slaughter of the firstborn sons and then voters are relieved when it is only the removal of child benefits from middle-classes mothers.* We can see this being played out in the papers currently.
Rishi is boxed in by the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto which promised no increases in income tax, VAT or National Insurance rates. Pandemic spending means that debt is rising and Rishi wants to signal it will have to be repaid. So like Gordon Brown he is contemplating stealth taxes. The press have flown the following as kites:
The Conservatives have already lost their ideological ability to paint their Labour opponents as Magic Money Tree farmers, given they have given the Magic Money Tree such a big shake themselves. They will lose their reputation as a low-tax party too if they go too far down this path. Rishi’s slick photoshopped imagery will not see him forgiven by the true blue wing of his party if he does turn them into a party of high taxes and high spending. It won’t do his leadership prospects much good.