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By conceding the need for spending cuts Ed Balls has made the job of the next Conservative government a lot easier... George Osborne now wants Labour to also concede the need for tax rises


It's been a big week in politics and I don't think anyone had quite captured its importance until this morning and Matt d'Ancona's Sunday Telegraph column.  Matt underlines the massive strategic ground that Brown has been forced to surrender:

"[Gordon Brown] has decontaminated the very word he so successfully drenched in ugliness and horror. For more than a decade it was brave at best, and sometimes politically suicidal, to declare oneself a "cutter". That was thanks to Gordon Brown. With bleak symmetry, it is he who has declared an end to this once-robust consensus. It is he who has given "permission" for others to argue for much deeper cuts."

Read the full piece.

The Brown u-turn is now bearing practical fruit... CCHQ's cup of joy will have been overflowing at the main story in The Sunday Times about Ed Balls planning to make £2bn of cuts in education - including frontline teaching staff:

Picture 19

It's certainly now much easier for the Conservative government to make cuts. Labour has provided cover and, deliciously, Ed Balls has started the process.

George Osborne is now determined to blame tax rises on Labour, too.  He claims the leaked Treasury papers that came into his possession earlier this week prove that Labour is planning £15bn of tax rises:

Picture 20

This is Phase II of the Tory campaign.  Phase I has seen all the parties become cutters.  CCHQ now want the need for tax rises to be conceded too.  I remain willing to concede that tax rises may be necessary but only after four conditions have been met:

  1. Possibilities for spending cuts have been exhausted. I can't see Cameron modifying his NHS pledge so I doubt this one will be met.
  2. Businesses are spared the brunt of tax rises. We must come to power with a growth agenda and raising taxes on businesses is unacceptable.
  3. Any tax rises have sunset clauses in them. After three or four years they expire once their deficit reducing work is done.
  4. The top public spending priority are anti-poverty measures.

Tim Montgomerie


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