« We did not lose the last two elections because we promised tax cuts | Main | New Tory policy on tax »


I'm really starting to wonder if our losing tax messages in the past two elections would apply now. In 2001 Gordon Browns' stealth taxes were not apparent to most people and in 2005 our message was sold without any conviction whatsoever. Perhaps the worm is turning at last (as the above indicates)and a low tax message will actually prove to be popular?

"and a low tax message will actually prove to be popular? "

It had to happen Malcolm. Slowing house prices, increased difficulty in borrowing have begun to hit home that far from rich, people are highly taxed and highly geared.

With little chance of 2001/2002 style annual house price increases to fuel more borrowing, people will be looking for tax cuts, imho.

This is the perfect time to use tax cuts to actually sell the wider benefits of small government and of course, personally I am very pleased that UKIP have passionately embraced this positive libertarian, free market low tax, small government approach.

We have to bang on about waste, not tax.

I doubt low-tax messages are themselves unpopular. I can think of very good reasons why the Tories lost in 97 and 01, neither of them due to tax policy. And if the 05 tax message from the Conservatives was not put across very well, it was because Letwin was undergoing the removal of his spine at the time and made an embarrassment of it and ended up offering something like 0.575% of public spending as a cut. Still, the Tories won the popular vote in England.


I'm glad you've highlighted the comments on the BBC website. I've pointed people to them twice - once today and once during the party conference when the same message was coming through loud and clear.

People are being taxed to the hilt. Politically, I think our tax cuts will only wash if we clearly identify waste that we will cut out in our first year in government. There's plenty to go at. I'll start with a suggested £200 million saving on the taxpayer-funded elements of the British Council. There are dozens more. Which ConservativeHome readers want to add some more examples of waste we can chop so that we have 100 examples to present to the party leadership.

Margaret Thatcher was derided for her "housewife's" approach to the public finances, but that's not far from what's required presently.

Tax relief on one side of the balance sheet and clear matching examples of waste that we will eliminate on the other side.

With the amount of waste in the system generated by 12 years of Labour Government I'd personally love to be in charge of this exercise. George Osborne has a superb opportunity. He is highly intelligent. I think he'll take it.

The growth under Gordo has come from Public Spending and big increases in Money Supply - that is why taxes are such a burden.

It is not as if Britain has huge growth in exports, nor as if it is exporting North Sea Oil - but it is running a huge trade deficit on importing Chinese goods.

If the growth in GDP has been taxpayer funded by creating new public sector jobs and because of easy credit causing a housing bubble against which people borrow, it is clear that taxes will be crushing

Tuition Fees are a big tax increase on modest incomes

Ask yourself the simple question in Europe...............would you rather work for The State and have job security...........or take your chances in a private sector facing huge competition and huge regulation ?

Firstly, comments on the BBC website is hardlly a scientific sample.
secondly, of course people say they want lower tax. If you ask the question "would you like a tax cut?" without any context of course the answer will be yes.
but if you ask another question out of context "would you like to see an increase in public spending? the answer again will be yes.
The problem is that this issue is much more complex than the tax cutters would like us to believe. at the moment (thanks to the Tory rescue of Britain in the 80s) a fair majority of people feel quite well off and like the idea of public spending on NHS etc. All Conservatives (me included) think people are taxed too much but at the moment most people don't agree. You can't win elections by disagreeing with the electorate.

Candidate for savings? Easy! No:1 £4.3bn to the EU, rising exponentially to £12bn in 2013 - and that's the NET figure (the gross is ALREADY £12bn). That increase is Blair's legacy from his summit cock-up!

No-one thinks you should try to win an election by disagreeing with the electorate. There is a very simple message to get across which is that Labour believes in high taxation as an end in itself, not a means to an end. Especially in England, ordinary people are being forced to pay more and more for less and less. They are starting to notice and it is going to get a lot worse, especially for the under-35's, as tuition fees kick in and they are forced to pick up the bill for the babyboomers' unfunded pension liabilities, and no access tio similar pension benefits. This is not a hard message to sell, especially as it is as much about intergenerational fairness as about levels of public spending.

We have to bang on about waste, not tax.

I'd say we should be banging on about competitiveness and globalisation. We shouldnt try and claim to be the party of 'stability' but rather present ourselves as the part of economic dynamism and ambition. And point out that if we want to achieve this, we cannot go on with a high tax, high waste economy.

I always thought politicians were meant to influence the electorate not follow them. Public opinion can change if politicians have the courage to try and change them.

Take Green issues. Cameron has really promoted environmental issues and public attitudes have changed as a result.

If Cameron promoted lower taxes, he could persuade the electorate to change their view (if it actually needs changing). Judging by the press reaction, he would have the mainstream media on his side. I'm sure Cameron believes in lower taxes. He should have the courage to campaign for them. The electorate like political leadership and want to see that the Conservatives will actually make a difference in power. Supporting Labour's failed ideology will not win voters.

The current poll on the BBC website asks:

"Would you like to see taxes cut?"

And the standings are:

Yes - 65.28%
No - 21.06%
Maybe - 13.67%

Not scientific of course!

We're 65% to 21% in favour of tax cuts, with 14/5 maybe's.

Courage Mon Brave!

Ah, somebody did that already I see.

Point is, we never ran a long term campaign for the changes we wanted to make in 01 or 05.

How often I heard, "Oh no. It's far too early to be setting out policies". Then, with three weeks to go it's "TA DA!! Tax Cuts anyone?"

Then, "Oh F%^&! The polls aren't good, better shut up about that".

Thatcher did it completely differently. "Intellectual bombs" came first with the IEA and others lobbing grenades of acedemic rigour into the opinion forming classes, then the media were encouraged to debate things at an intellectual level (Ha, we really could do this today), then we set out detailed strategic goals and argued for them over a year or more, even against the most hostile media questioning, but we stuck to our guns. Then we won.

Funny that.

Rob Largan

I don't believe we lost the election because of "tax cuts" I do hoever think the instability of 88-93 - coming after those wonderful budgets where we returned the surplus to the tax payer - caused a deep wound that was still raw in 2001 and not healed in 2005. We need to convince the public that tax cuts won't be followed by inflation, interest rates at 12% and then housing market collapse and millions unemployed. So its important we bang on, and on, and on about stability.

Gordon Browns luck (and judgement?) has been that, despite the IT bubble bursting and house price inflation, he presides over an economy that hasn't boomed nor has it bust. It's strange that a government that burst into power with promise of change & vigour has as its core strength a mediocre economy - it is being held back by taxation, regulation and fear of failure but has delivered stability.

It's been unexiting but comfortable for many - so why should they let go of nurses hand? Labour has consistently won among those with mortgages for Gs sake - the very people Thatcher targeted. The British are conservative with a small c so getting them to take risks is difficult. Why should they risk putting the Tories in power when it is OK, not great, but OK with Gordon?

First we need to convince people we can be trusted, that we share their concerns and won't put them in danger. We need to show at the same time that Gordon is past it, his best days behind him, his government is corrupted and stale from power. Do that and in three years we can offer new vigour, time for a change, targeted tax relief, rolling back the state.

We'll know within the next couple of weeks if the polls change - if they leap up in our favour then maybe there has been the sea change and we have regained their trust and tax cuts are acceptable.... if we fall back though?

For what it's worth, the AOL poll of "Would you vote Tory if they promised tax cuts?" is on YES 2/3 (2600 votes) NO 1/3 (1400 votes).

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