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If it is not the time for tax cuts despite ten years of Labour, then it is neither the time for Cameron to spend money on any of his pet projects: it is time for v-e-r-y small Government.

I think a declaration of large tax cuts would be a marvellous thing. It would show that the Tories were over their 'touchy-feelie' stage and that they were, at last, getting serious about actually offering something different from the tax and spend chancellor (oops, PM).

Perhaps it would be the start of a move which might bring back some of their support. It's just so obvious it's the right thing to do, but I won't be surprised if Cameron quietly drops the idea.

There's an offensive point being missed here. Whilst other Anglosphere economies are powering ahead, Britain has been hamstrung by Gordon Brown's tax regime and excessive padding of the state.

We need to come out in favour of a state sector that is fit for purpose, an approriate taxation regime enable that state AND to help the man on Clapham Omnibus.

So no narrow focus just on taxation, we need to attack the burgeoning state as well. Need ammo? - Guardian Public Sector job ads.

Brown's biggest weakness (and strength if allow him to carry on getting away with it) is the economy.

Its time to deploy a few more braincells in the prosecution of Brown.

Redwood's report will make an excellent jumping off point for the larger offensive on the way Labour has squandered money and mismanaged public services.

Taxes are too high AND the state sector is not fit for purpose.

Mr Hilton you are not earning your money....

Now is exactly the time to announce a truly conservative policy which should have been announced many months ago.

Until now Cameron has relied purely on apeing Labour policies and hoping that he would win in the beauty contest stakes. That shallow, dishonest approach has now been shown up as the miserable failure it was always doomed to be.

When Cameron was leading in the polls I stated consistently what I would have thought was the obvious fact that his marginal vote was 'soft'. This has now been proven beyond doubt, and even if he regains some of those swing voters, on election day they are just as likely to return to Brown or, more likely, not bother to vote at all.

The Cameron plan has been tried and it has failed. We're back where we were with the much-miligned, but honest and decent IDS.

It's time to sideline Cameron and make this less a party of personality and more a party of principle. The one princliple on which most of us are agreed is the necessity of setting the country free, and that means tax cuts.

Let's go for it!

Following the IDS findings on the broken society it would be perfectly consistent to pledge to increase the personal allowance significantly. The filthy rich seem to have done rather well under Brown so let's share the proceeds of growth with the very poorest and put an end to the benefits trap.

Well at least it's one small step, in the right direction, and will ignite discussion.
Of course the harpies on the left will use any comment to fire of a barrage inferring that the Tories will privatise the NHS, eliminate the social security measures implemented by a caring Chancellor and imply tens of thousands of job losses in the public sector to build support for their statist measures.
As others have said above we need to highlight the gross waste in the public sector, high taxation and the loss of inward investment and jobs, allied to the appalling educational standards.
Additionally we need to show that Brown is the architect of the situation we find ourselves in, with the yet unknown impact of PFI to be factored in, which may yet be our Enron moment.

TT: "It's time to sideline Cameron"

Wow, then we can rename the party from "Dave Cameron's Conservatives" to the "Conservative Party"!

"The need for David Cameron to be authentic should guide everything he currently does.£

But he is not authentic, so perhaps you should be a bit more realistic.

Who cares if Cameron personally do not believe in the policy? He wants to win an election, and if it addresses what is right for Britain, then it should be supported.

"sharing the proceeds of growth" is meaningless crap. If Cameron is now going to propose something solid, then that would be very welcome.

Given the growing evidence of global financial contagion, I wonder if George Osborne will actually have any "proceeds of growth" to share.


"sharing the proceeds of growth" is meaningless crap.

Even worse, it is downright socialism if Cameron still maintains that "He will also back the redistribution of wealth, a traditional Labour theme" as he did in 2006 and Letwin in December 2005.

I am concerned that Redwood is apparently going to come out in favour of Road-pricing. This had the biggest Downing street petition against, nearly 2 million. I think that implies there are probably closer to 10 million people at least who would not be remotely happy with road pricing, that is even before you get to the legitimate arguments against (authoritarian, expensive to deploy and administer, ineffective etc etc). Cameron should go nowhere near this policy.

If GB has Stealth Taxes, then why not Stealth Tax Cuts?

There are enormous possibilities for achieving significant savings through curtailing waste in, for example, the NHS, and a steady but undemonstrative reduction in the size of the civil service and other administrative arms and more that CH contributors could think of, I am sure, all under the banners of "Conservatives get you value for your money" and "Curbing Government Waste". Much of this can be done without the least bit of fanfare and the public won't notice as most of it is dead wood anyway.

And perhaps a serious culling of Quangos (which are stuffed full of Labour Placemen, so it could be done in the usual 'first hundred days' before we replace them with Tory Placemen who then get too comfortable with their feet under the table) of which Blair and Brown have been such avid creators. They spend £180 billion p.a.

If this is done with a strict injunction on not removing any front-line jobs, then over a four to five year parliament significant shavings (sic) could produce further scope for tax cuts alongside any that growth makes possible. And Quangos have the added advantage of being an unloved species, so few voters will mourn their passing.

Perhaps we should have a Fantasy Quango Culling Competition with contributors suggesting obscure and obsolete Quangos for the bolt gun. What I suspect is very much a non-exhaustive list may be found at http://tinyurl.com/2o6mgw.

Do we need, for example, a British Potato Council, a Milk Development Council, a Home Grown Cereals Authority?

see also http://tinyurl.com/yv5ooh

£180 billion ought to give someone scope for a bit of savings.

The Conservatives have got this business of taxes all cart-before-horse for years. Announcing "tax cuts" in themselves is just silly - and the past two times led to us having a risible policy based laughably small tax cuts pushed as if they were a major policy shift, funded by the last refuge of the political charlatan - "fraud and waste".

But the solution here wasn't to commit to "no tax cuts" either! Where Cameron came up with that one I've no idea.

Look. Surely, *surely*, the way to think about this is as follows: We have *no idea* whether we want to cut or raise taxes until we know how much we want to spend; and we have no idea how much we want to spend before we know (a) what it is that we want the state to do, as opposed to the private or third sectors; and (b) whether we want to subsidize activities that we decided to leave to the private or third sectors.

Taxes are just the residual. We can't come to a choice about taxes *first*, and then later decide what we want the state to do with those taxes. Leading on taxes makes it seem as if reforms we want to conduct in the public sector, whose objective *should* be to improve efficiency and to improve the services provided, are actually finance-driven - are driven by the dislike of nasty rich people of paying taxes to help the less-well-off.

Instead, our debate should be led by our arguments about what is the proper role of the state - what should the state do itself; and what should the state fund others to do. Once we know the answers to *these* questions (and as yet, it seems to me, we lack any very clear projection of our views here) then (and only then) will our taxation levels follow - as a residual, not as the driver of policy.

"Any big announcement on tax could be seen as a flip-flop and will increase voters' suspicions that there is something opportunistic in Project Cameron."

In my mind, not doing so because you think it might look opportunistic is even worse.

Andrew

Are you against the elimination or reduction of 'fraud and waste'?

I think we should be told.

"Judging by the number of outside interests taken up by the shadow cabinet it appears that our frontbench remains econo-centric in their own private interests."

Most of us are econo-centric, apart from the BBC which does not have to be, and for entirely different reason such people in the tradition of Mother Theresa. All Cameron has to promise is that no-one likes having to pay stealth taxes and that everyone is going to pay less tax under the Tories and to prove it here is the policy (which will not affect education, NHS etc).
If cometh the next GE Camreon is unable to lay out such a policy then that will be another reason not to bother voting Tory.

I agree with Tim's editorial line on this but would add some caveats to it.
"sharing the proceeds of growth" was and is still the best way to describe how we will tackle public spending and tax cuts. It does not make us a hostage to fortune, nor does it give Brown's well prepared attack line of "public services will face swinging cuts" any traction.

"ConservativeHome has long been unhappy with the Tory leadership's cautious approach to easing Britain's crippling tax burden but we do not think that now is a good time for a major change of course."
I disagree with this, in the last 18 months we would have been mad to go on about tax cuts because it would have undermined any attempt to decontaminate the Conservative brand so soon after the 2005 GE.
At best we look to be in for an uncomfortable period economically while the markets go through a period of correction in the world wide credit boom. At worst we might be facing a recession, we need to be flexible and able to shift the emphasis on what is needed to help the economy. I like the example that Tim put forward regarding the Canadian Conservatives, but I also agree that now is not the time for a major change of course. We need to maintain the strategy of allowing ourselves flexibility rather than being boxed in so early into Brown's premiership.

Didn't John Redwood once say that the Tories were nothing if they weren't the party of tax cuts?

Perhaps socio-centric Letwin, Osborne and Cameron could tithe their fortunes into a pot that could pay for a tax cut for the rest of us econo-centrics?

Voters do not believe that any government will cut taxes so such a declaration will win few votes. All that it will do is to allow Brown to use the Big Book of Snide that Tony left behind and to calim that the Tories will privatise the NHS, cut policing, discard Tax Credits, charge everybody for medicines and so forth. Michael Howard was like a rabbit in the headlights every time Blair responded in this manner.

There are a vast number of things that need to be put right, many by simple proclamation. Cameron and Osborne must learn to deal in tangibles that the voter can understand, believe and adopt.

Iraq and Afghanistan, National Debt, administration disasters such as Tax Credits and the NHS. Challenge Labour on every threatened hospital closure, challenge them on borders and terrorism. Challenge them on education, education, education.

Don't set Shadow Ministers up as Aunt Sallies with silly initiatives about Museum charging and the red herring of grammar schools deliberately incited.

And, yes, yes, yes - cull the quangoes.

Since most Corporation Tax is paid by the Clearing Banks just what mesage is this sending ?

It is unclear that Effective Rates of Corporation Tax are too high....it is clear that taxes such as Stamp Duty and Council Tax are regressive...but I fail to see how nominal rates of 28% are excessive for corporations.

Maybe the North Sea oil tax regime could be modified - or even the 112,000 individuals paying no Income Tax in Britain could face an Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) which they were obliged to pay.

It is simply not self-evident that we should give extra tax breaks to those corporates paying the highest salaries....instead of assisting start-ups and businesses whose tax-losses are their sole asset

"Surely, *surely*, the way to think about this is as follows: ..."

I might agree if we had a leader we knew for certain were Conservative, but Cameron has shot himself in the foot by his leftie talk in the past, as illustrated by for example the link I gave above. Cameron will have to do a lot of footwork to gain the trust of the real Conservatives.

Maybe the North Sea oil tax regime could be modified - or even the 112,000 individuals paying no Income Tax in Britain could face an Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) which they were obliged to pay.
Mostly they aren't paying any tax because they are not counted as resident - there is those circumstances the choice between altering residency definitions or accepting it.

Mostly they aren't paying any tax because they are not counted as resident

They are counted as "resident" but not "domiciled"....that is the difference. You buy a grave in Timbuktoo and live in your Sussex estate for the rest of the time importing capital not income from the offshore trust - you then pay 0.5% stamp duty on your mansion and no IHT nor any CGT on what by definition must be a second home.

Adding another tax isn't the solution, rather the number of taxes and benefits and numbers of tax reliefs need to be rationalised.

Scrapping Inheritance Tax, scrapping Excise Duties and merging assessments of Capital Gains and Income into one scheme with a single but far higher threshold (naturally the amount of Capital Gains assessable as taxed should still be on the basis of how long they have been held onto - that was something of an innovation). Phasing out National Insurance - complexities in methods of taxation just provide loopholes that can be exploited. Tax rates need to be reduced as well, and savings in public spending need to be found with any increases anywhere either coming from money raised commercially or by re-arranging existing spending.

"[N]aturally the amount of Capital Gains assessable as taxed should still be on the basis of how long they have been held onto"

Why is the length of time someone holds an investment relevant to how much tax should be charged on the gain? Taper relief replaced indexation allowance which was a vastly superior method of determining the investment cost at the time of sale. Now we have a situation where assets will be held for longer periods simply to mitigate tax. What we actually need is greater liquidity in the markets with individuals free to buy and sell investments without being penalised for making a fast buck. Tax on capital gains from investments on the LSE and AIM should be abolished to promote investment in British companies.

Why is the length of time someone holds an investment relevant to how much tax should be charged on the gain?
The idea behind the change was to encourage people to actually do something with the shares, take part in decisions in company policy rather than simply trying to buying low and sell high which does nothing for the company.

Anyone who says sharing the procedes of grouth is meaningless crap is not only economically incompetent but can't even add up.

When will the hysterical children in the Telegraph realise that cutting taxes is not popular. A small majority may say that but a large majority would want no cuts in public spending. It's rather like grammar schools, a small majority in favour but a large majority against the 11 plus.

scrapping Excise Duties

I wonder if the EU will agree to that ?

"Anyone who says sharing the proceeds of growth is meaningless crap is not only economically incompetent but can't even add up."

Sorry David, you are displaying your ignorance so perhaps you need some basic economic tuition.

I have a degree in economics from Oxford, and a Harvard MBA. Perhaps I fall into those you say are economically incompetent, but the phrases is clearly utterly meaningless in my book.

Given inflation, and the fact that it is not specific about whether this means rates, or % of GDP, the policy can be used to fit tax approaches from Brown's to Thatcher's. So meaningless crap, or the other more elegant descriptions used by the CBI, IOD, and many others, it clearly is.

I think Andrew Lilico has hit the nail on the head, how on earth can anyone make a decision on either tax cuts or tax increases until you work out what your going to spend. Once you have that figure which would include any savings on waste etc then you can see exactly how much taxation is needed.
Then and only then can you set the tax level.

I wonder if the EU will agree to that ?
Another good reason for leaving the EU - they probably wouldn't agree to scrapping Excise Duties (unless they got something in return), but that doesn't mean they are a good thing.

I have a degree in economics from Oxford, and a Harvard MBA.

Really ? Which College ? Which Section ?

Do you have PPE or MH/E or Eng/Ec ?

Mind you we can probably agree that politicians haven't a clue but read out a soundbite scripted by a weenie. NOt like having to get your rations at Baker 20 and digest them all for an opening next morning.

I agree with Andrew and Dick. We have to work out first what we think the state should or should not be doing, thus get our principles right first and explain them. Then work out how and what level we set tax. Other than that I think tax is one of those isues that some people say they want reducing but when they vote in the secrecy of the polling booth all too often do the opposite. Even more reason to get the basics right as a party and explain them,

Matt

"I have a degree in economics from Oxford, and a Harvard MBA. Perhaps I fall into those you say are economically incompetent, but the phrases is clearly utterly meaningless in my book."

So if it fits the tax approaches of assorted people you know what it means. The problem that the Tory party often faces is people who think they are very clever but happily use their time nit picking at Tory party comments just to let people know what degrees (or sometimes relatives) the've got.

In politics to-day one has to use simple language to get the media to print it and the man on the Clapham omnibus to be bothered to try to understand it. One of the geat difficulties for some time is that Tory leaders are just as likely get egotistical nit picking from its own side as spinned critism from Labour and the BBC.

From david is on planet britain

say they want reducing but when they vote in the secrecy of the polling booth all too often do the opposite.

Really ? Is there any party that has won a Council Election by increasing Council Tax ?

[email protected]:48

When I was first elected as a Councillor I had campaigned on a platform that I would raise taxes. And we gained control of the council. (Welwyn Hatfield - 1999 IIRC) Does that count?

Incidentally, I also said I'd slash spending and privatise various things and prevent housing development on a green space in the middle of the ward. All of which we/I did (including the tax rises).

There has been no bigger mistake from Team Cameron than Oliver Letwin's suggestion that the party was shifting from an econo-centric to a socio-centric worldview

Editor, whilst I agree with many of your comments specific to taxation here, I think you are mistaken to associate the change in philosophy to a sociocentric approach with issues related to practical tax policy. They are for all intents and purposes completely unrelated.

By providing such a viewpoint, I believe you do the Conservative Party and the concept a disservice.

Whilst Oliver Letwin should have presented his conclusions in plain English they are none the less just as valid despite their inaccessible, high brow, intellectual, jargonistic presentation.

I believe the point that he was making is that it is no longer practical for political parties to view the management of the country purely in economic and ideological terms. It is now time to address the issues that society requires to be addressed in a holistic manner.

No matter how much wealth the country amasses, the creation of that wealth has not resolved the ills and injustices within society. Nor will the imposition of past political ideology. Labour has tried this over the past 10 years and continues to do so with increasing failure.

As individuals, the majority of us are as prosperous as we have ever been but still the poverty gap widens, crime increases and becomes more violent and society is breaking down. As IDS pointed out this is a significant long-term barrier to reducing the tax burden.

I believe the sociocentric concept is in fact an expansion of the econocentric concept (which has been used for many years) addressing the needs of society as a whole and not just the base financial needs.

Furthermore as someone who believed Michael Howard's manifesto in 2005 was far too narrow in policy terms I welcome the change in focus.

What is wrong with the concept of politics addressing the needs of society as a whole rather than just their financial needs?

It is not socialism under another guise. Conservative principles (e.g. The Way Forward Groups' principles) can still be applied. What is important is that the Conservative party stay firm with such principles and over time develop them to their fullest extent in a sociocentric manner.

The key question is whether the economy will need to be addressed as an urgent activity in developing the Conservative sociocentric vision for society. With the increasing doubts over Gordon Brown's management of the economy, the rectification of these issues should be a priority for a Conservative Government. The party must be able to convince the electorate that they are able to deal with economic issues.

As for taxation, it is only a device to obtain the necessary funding to implement the (sociocentric) vision set out and the type and level of taxation should be designed to meet the implementation and maintenance costs of that vision.

To decide which taxation approach should be used really depends on the issues to be addressed at that time and the methods preferred by society. I note the vast majority of posts on this thread relate to what taxes individuals prefer.

Furthermore, I believe that the Canadian Tax changes you speak of are 'sociocentric' by nature, as they selectively address issues important to Canadian Society (hence they are popular) and encourage the resolution of the issue at hand whereas Britain's crippling tax burden is the result of the failing current centralised econocentric approach and outdated political ideologies of the 19th & 20th Centuries(capitalism/ socialism).

Over time, in a sociocentric society I would prefer a migration away from income/wealth based taxation to selective service/product based taxation. However, that may take decades to achieve and would not necessarily completely remove the need for income/wealth based tax.

The 'sociocentric paradigm' is not a mistake. It is possible the best way forward for this country in the 21st Century. The mistake Oliver Letwin has made was not presenting it in plain English and then not clearly elaborating on it to make it relevant to the electorate. Perhaps someone might do so at the party conference?

I tend to agree with John Leonard that Letwin was expressing something important with his econo-centric to socio-centric stuff. I don't think he (Letwin) got it quite right - I'm not convinced that *society*, per se, has moved away from a need to consider incentives or productivity, or efficiency, or otherwise skilful employment of scarce resources. *That* will never change. But if we understand Letwin's message as: Conservatives have been seen as finance-driven, boorish cynics who knew the price of everything and the value of nothing (as the saying goes), and in our political age that is nt going to be attractive; instead we must both pitch ourselves in softer socially-conscious ways and take a genuine interest in social matters - then Letwin had something important from which we can learn. It rather surpises me that the editors don't see matters that way, since I would have thought that was a message they were very keen on themselves...

John, It may be that I, like Mr Letwin, did not express myself well!

I am wholly supportive of a Conservatism that takes social issues more seriously. From 1998 to 2003 my full-time work with the Conservative Christian Fellowship and then with the Renewing One Nation unit at CCO was to urge the Conservative Party to take a deeper interest in social issues. The Renewing One Nation unit published the 2002 book called 'There is such a thing as society' in order to make that case. What was wrong with the communication of the Letwin speech was that it suggested a downgrading of economic concerns. That was and is politically dangerous in my view.

I hope this helps!

"There has been no bigger mistake from Team Cameron than Oliver Letwin's suggestion that the party was shifting from an econo-centric to a socio-centric worldview."

I disagree with you there Tim, whilst Letwin's statement was certainly a major error the biggest mistake of Team Cameron was the "Heir to Blair" claim which couldn't resonate worse with most voters, especially the majority who vote mainly on gut feeling. As I said on another thread that statement couldn't have been further away from the prevailing gestalt.

What was wrong with the communication of the Letwin speech was that it suggested a downgrading of economic concerns

What was wrong was that Oliver Letwin has chronic "foot in mouth" disease and is a disaster. Iain Macleod would not have been as incompetent in putting across his ideas; Letwin has simply never been exposed to proper debate with the general public and facing hecklers - he thinks the whole world is a seminar rather than a bingo hall

[email protected]:48

When I was first elected as a Councillor I had campaigned on a platform that I would raise taxes. And we gained control of the council. (Welwyn Hatfield - 1999 IIRC) Does that count?

Posted by: Andrew Lilico | August 11, 2007 at 20:57

NO. That was not the party programme...and Council Tax is capped

>NO. That was not the party programme<

?? Yes it was!

To raise Council Tax and ignore the cap even if it meant being surcharged ?

"ny big announcement on tax could be seen as a flip-flop and will increase voters' suspicions that there is something opportunistic in Project Cameron. The need for David Cameron to be authentic should guide everything he currently does. "

And that tells you everything you need to know about the tories.

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