Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More straightforward answers to simple questions

Ed Miliband's strategy at PMQs is pretty simple (now that the statesmanlike bi-partisan search for consensus has flopped): find a question the PM doesn't want to answer and keep asking it. He did this with his risible energy price freeze, and now he's doing it over the 50p tax rate for high-earners.

The question is: "Will the PM rule out a further cut to the top rate of tax?"

Each time this was asked, Cameron flannelled: saying that the priority was cuts for low and middle incomes. But by not actually answering it, he just gave the issue more resonance. It's baffling and bewildering, because there is a perfectly good answer that he could have given that would have put the issue to bed, and turned into a better springboard to attack Labour:
This Government has aspirations to cut taxes for everyone: we are a temperamentally low-tax administration. However, a further cut to the top rate, so that it returns to the level it was for all but a few weeks of Labour's time in office, is not our top priority. That is cuts to taxes on lower earners etc etc.
What we do not propose to do is to raise it further because, as HMRC and the IFS demonstrate, such a hike would raise no significant revenue and be nothing more than a gesture to show the world that Britain doesn't welcome investment, doesn't value success and doesn't encourage aspiration.
 Isn't that better?

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