Dr Jonathan M Scott, an enterprise educator and an entrepreneurship policy researcher at Queen’s University Belfast and author of the Wilted Rose blog, looks at the significance of Labour's pre-by-election tax bribe.
Perhaps one of the most remarkable outcomes of the contest at Crewe & Nantwich is the resultant positioning of Alistair Darling as a “tax-cutter”. The Chancellor has achieved tax cuts, something that has been unthinkable in recent years, in an attempt to win a crucial by-election.
The tax debacle was self-imposed, as one of Brown’s last careless actions as Chancellor in 2007 when he too tried to position himself as a “tax-cutter” by reducing the 22p income tax band to 20p to produce sensational headlines. Maybe the Brown bounce that followed his coronation as Supreme Leader of the Labour Party, and our Prime Minister, was partially caused by people’s elation that Brown had cut tax when the Tories didn’t dare do so due to the myth of public opinion? (This myth is the left-liberal notion that the electorate was prepared to pay higher taxes because they believed, falsely, that the alternative was reductions in public services). The Brown bounce lasted an even shorter period of time than the misguided belief that the tax cut was without a hidden stealth tax. The myth of public opinion has also evaporated: people are now hurting financially, and need some immediate remedy.