A post on ToryDiary yesterday covered the ICM poll on tax and noted the usual ambiguities arising from the form of the questions. It seems that the majority think they are over-taxed, and the majority say they don't want tax cuts. The majority also think that the government does not make good use of the money raised. Hmm: you can do what you like with that.
To be fair, I don't think there's a set of polling questions yet tested that tell you exactly what the public wants, what policy would help one win an election, or indeed what would be good for the country.
It's so tricky because the issue is so important and so entangled with many aspects of our lives. I think opinion is quite straight-forward:
- people want tax cuts for themselves but not for anyone richer than themselves;
- they want no cuts in services they use but don't worry so much about saving money on the services that other people use.
They may or may not have wider views about the effect of taxes on the economy and the community, but they will be primarily driven by the things they understand best, which is their own situation.
So I don't think you will find any polling evidence which reliably tells you what tax policy is most likely to win you the next election, or whether you should even talk about tax or stay silent. Politicians will have to come to their own conclusions about what's right for the country, make the argument and hope they win; or stay quiet and hope that other issues will take them over the line. Which choice is best is a matter of instinct, not of polling.