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They would have fallen into the trap if they didn`t agree with the policy not if they agreed with it. Brown is trying to paint the Conservatives as being the rich peoples party. Against anything that will cost there rich friends money. It is crude class politics that personally I think is distastful and deserves to fail and I am glad that Osborne and Cameron have moved to ensure that Browns crude politics that is as repugnant as the racism of the BNP fails.

Osborne (if Iain Dale will forgive me) is total politics, 0% principle.


Exactly right. We need to let people make money so that the incentive is there to create jobs. The idea that top earners should be punished is ideological in origin and should be countered. Why is the Conservative party, time and again, allowing the Labour government to set the agenda?

If we believe in incentive, and there is no greater incentive in business than profit, then we should be fighting to give entrepreneurs and investors the leeway to operate. We can't create jobs unless we look after the people who actually create jobs.

What trap, Jack? All this talk of a trap is sensationalist nonsense. The people that would buy that argument are part of the 30% already backing Labour in the polls.

People would understand a principled stand against raising taxes for anyone - especially in the current circumstances. So many people are losing their jobs and so many small businesses are struggling to survive it would defy logic to increase the tax burden on them.

If we agree in principle now with a top rate increase to 45%, people will believe we agree in principle with punishing the rest of the working population with increases on the basic rate of tax thereafter.

Make no mistake, there is huge scope to reduce public expenditure without affecting frontline services. One only has to look at the way Labour has sprayed money over areas where government had no business getting involved.

We have recently learned that far from trimming the state, the number of public sector jobs has had a net increase of 13,000 - while the private sector is having to slash and burn to stay afloat. How, in the name of all things holy, can that be justified and afforded?

It is time to adopt a principled stand of not increasing tax from an already unacceptably high base. The public is not stupid. It will understand the concept of not adding further financial pressure to them.

I've got that sinking feeling again.

When I heard Boris on Radio 4 this afternoon rightly defending the goose that laid the golden egg(s) (but which then died from exhaustion thanks to Brown's battery farming), he sounded like a voice in the wilderness.

He found himself disagreeing with his own party's position on taxation and enterprise, as unbelievable as that might sound.

Part of that sinking feeling comes from the realisation that George Osbourne might actually be a bit thick.

The rest of it comes from the knowledge that his - and by implication his boss's - shallow analysis and lack of genuine, principled courage might conceivably lead to five more years of Labour - and Brown!

Someone needs to get serious in the Tory Party - urgently.

This is also the price for having Clarke back in the Shadow Cabinet. They should take a leaf out of Thatcher's book before the 79 election and make no specific pledges on tax or spending. It may well be that we have to both but up taxes and slash spending but there are better ways of broaching the issue than this sort of mealy mouthed, weasley nudge and hint. Osborne is very accident prone and a bit of an upper middle class twit ! He has no idea how difficult life is getting for much of the electorate so can't really get angry about it. If he was angry he would be a bit more careful about announcing a tax rise without a corresponding large reduction in spending. Why not start with inflated MP salaries and pensions ?

Redwood is more balanced on this.


Osborne has been very careful not to agree with the 45p tax hike or say he will scrap it. He can't now be painted with the "TORY CUTS!" or the "you've no ideas of your own" brush.

"Hard to avoid" is actually very clever politics.

We don't know the scale of the hole we're in and won't until we win the election. Why give Labour a stick to beat us with?

There are lots of things we can point to which illustrate waste, Labour's perennial failure to deliver even while racking up huge spending. The sub-text is, we will sort this out, but why get hung up on detail?

Three words - "Clause 4 moment."

In fact Osborne hasn't actually had to do anything - simply refusing to reverse a Labour decision is enough. No conference vote to win, no party battles to fight.

But the reaction of the commentators shows that this has been enough - the statement is big enough and bold enough to signify a cultural break with an 'old' Tory party which many parts of the electorate still inherently distrust.

Cultural Tories still don't fully get it - the public remain to be convinced that Cameron is the 'real deal' and that a Progressive Conservative agenda is anything more than a soundbite. Cameron and Osborne are determined this is going to happen and that it has to happen; not just to win the election but because they think it is right. Add this to the IDS comment piece in the Telegraph on penal reform and you have all the evidence you need that Cameron is not moving from the middle ground.

This 45% tax band rubbish is not about bringing the budget deficit down - it is pure Old Labour Class War & spite. Brown was trying to cement his core vote nothing more. George Osborne wants to talk to Lord Lawson & Lord Howe about why raising taxes on the wealthy raises no extra cash and just damages the economy.

Talk about a stupid decision......

Robert, this is not a clause 4 moment. Do you think more people will believe Cameron is the real deal if he allows the Conservatives to drift along with the suspicion they might support a top rate tax increase to 45%? How is that progressive?

The evidence supports the argument that raising the top rate of tax to 45% for those earning big money will not increase revenue by more than a negligible amount. If Cameron is to prove he is the real deal then he has to show he will not engage in gesture politics of the sort Labour is guilty of.

You are so, so, so wrong Robert. You modernizers make me sick. You ape New Labour. It's all politics for you. Their Clause IV movement (abandoning nationalization) was at least a move in the direction of sense. Your Clause IV moment takes us towards the kind of high taxation that destroyed Britain in the 1970s. But you don't care. You don't care if it destroys jobs. You don't care if it doesn't raise much money or any money. You don't care if it puts the left in charge of the debate. The only thing that matters to your calculating political brain is that it sends out a message that we've changed. Changed from a party that did the right thing for Britain to a party that no longer knows the difference between right and wrong.

Well said Sammy.

"The only thing that matters to your calculating political brain is that it sends out a message that we've changed."

A message that might actually convert floating voters and win us an election so we can actually have some power to do something...


"The only thing that matters to your calculating political brain is that it sends out a message that we've changed."

A message that might actually convert floating voters and win us an election so we can actually have some power to do something...'

Are you saying that you are happy for Dave and co to say and do anything (we know he is a chameleon) to get in power? How strange.

Brilliant comment from DCMX. Goes to the heart of what is weak in the Cameron project.

The lower the tax rate, the more investment you attract. Fraser Nelson is correct. The rich will just bugger off if you start charging them higher rates of tax. Boris Johnson is correct. It does not make economic sense. You don't need a degree in economics to work out this is a useless, regressive idea. Hopefully George Osborne will send it to the political dustbin.

The words chicken and headless spring to mind.

Osborne should carefully study Geoffrey Howe's first budget in 1979, at a time when the public finances were also under strong pressure and there was little room for overall tax cuts. There was a shift from direct to indirect taxation - from tax on jobs to tax on spending, which is at least to some extent a discretionary tax on consumption. The top rate of tax was cut from 83% to 60%, while VAT rose to 15%. If as a last resort taxes have to rise then it is the reversal of Gordon's ill-judged reduction in VAT which should be the first option.

Andrew Allison - As most of Europe, China, Australia and Canada have top rates of 45p or more and as even Obama is raising the top rate in the US then there are not that many places for the rich to 'bugger off' too. In any case the 45p rate was backed by more than 70% of the public in the most recent yougov poll on the subject. If we oppose it we will lose many key swing voters. Do we really want to do so at the expense of causing mild annoyance to a few well paid, right-wing commentators?

Definitely a good thing. Cameron is far more popular than the Conservative grass-roots, and the occasional scrap - about something which doesn't matter but which makes Cameron look like a different kind of conservative - is entirely to be welcomed.

"The words chicken and headless spring to mind."

Yes, that Brown is getting a bit annoying isn't he, trying to be everywhere at once, trying to give the impression that 'look, look, they're following me'.

I don't see that if people are happy to work at 40% tax, that they will suddenly stop at 45%.


It's about as logical as saying people would buy more stuff if VAT was reduced from 17.5% to 15%. Except at least these raises money, rather than wastes it. (Yes I know that taxation is the government wasting the population's money, but the problem is this government has wasted our grandchildren's money already, and we need to do something to pay it back.)

"Cultural Tories"

That's a new one. Define please.

HYUFD, ask the public if they would still support the 45% rate if it meant fewer businesses and less jobs being created. Pandering to envy does not offer a solution to our very real economic problems.

This is not about mild annoyance to right-wing commentators. This is about implementing the right measures to fix the economic mess Labour has caused. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the 45% rate will make virtually no difference.

In fact it could force people away to locations where they get far more for their money. Or it could change their use of resources so they pay less in tax. Remember, tax receipts went up when the top rate came down to 40%. It will likely impact job creation and probably reduce our tax receipts long term.

I do not think raising tax on anyone is the right thing to do. It will not help. Tax is high enough as it is. The problem is the government refuses to stop increasing the size of the state and this is taking more money from the public purse at a time less is being paid in, due to businesses collapsing and people losing their jobs.

The Conservatives have traditionally opposed high taxes because it undermines the economy. So where is the sense in supporting Labour's economic scorched earth policy?

This has the smell of another policy ballsup like the grammargate one.

Created by sloppy thinking. I am sadly coming round to the view that Osbourne must go. He seems to be incapable of focusing solely on his brief. Either that or he has the political antennae of a gnat.

Higher income tax is a political bridge too far for the Conservatives. It is very simple, do this and you will lose half the activists.

Gideon Osborne is scared witless at the thought of becoming Chancellor - you can see the fear in his eyes. He will be led and guided by his departmental Mandarins if he ever achieves that office. There is not a grain of originality in him.
A man with a 2nd Class degree in Modern (!) History is not from the intellectual top flight and, although it's only my suspicion, I doubt that he is at ease with numbers. His inadequacy is doubly debilitating for the Conservative party in that it also makes plain Mr Cameron's reluctance to act decisively and drop his chum.

Tony Sharp - The rate will only apply to the top 1-2% of the population so will have virtually no impact on jobs and business growth and will almost certainly not affect most small businesses (the average exective of a good size small business earns £75,000 according to the IFS). As I pointed out, most of the West has rates similar to 45p or more so it will hardly lead to a mass flight of the wealthy and with international efforts to crack down on tax havens and the measures against non-doms tax avoidance will become harder. Finally, the reduction to 40p by Nigel Lawson only improved revenues as it was from a high of 60p, a rise to 45p should do something to ease the deficit and no sensible policymaker is suggesting returning to anything like a 60p rate.

"Osborne (if Iain Dale will forgive me) is total politics, 0% principle."

THIS!!! It's the Conservative party, not a different brand of New Labour...

What jobs do you think these top 1-2% are doing? You say increasing the top rate of tax to 45% will have virtually no impact on jobs and business growth. Increasing the top rate of tax will have virtually no impact on tax receipts and do nothing to alleviate the economic problems we have. So why do it?

I think a rise to 45% will have a psychological effect on people who will see nearly half their earnings above the threshold taken by the state. The super rich will be untouched by this because they can use tax avoidance measures to protect their income. The burden will fall on those who, contrary to your assertion, run SMEs and employ people.

If 45% is such a bad thing for business and enterprise, and total class war politics, why did it take Mrs Thatcher leave the top rate at 60% for her first nine years in charge? A mere 5% increase in reality is neither here nor there. It's politics from Brown and Osborne is doing very well to counter it. Hysterical overreactions from ConHome contributors and editors (who ought to know better) play into the government's hands.

The top 1-2% are basically rich, if not super rich, by anyone's definition. Most of those affected by the increase will be bankers, wealthy city workers, big business ceos and a few celebrities, a 5% increase in their tax take will have almost no impact on jobs. As most medium sized business executives earn no more than £125,000 according to the IFS it will not impact on them either. As I have stated measures are being taken domestically and internationally to crack down on tax avoidance by the super rich. The new rate should raise at least around £2 billion and that is hardly to be sneezed at. Finally, it could also raise social mobility, as countries such as Norway and Canada which top the Sutton Trust social mobility table have top rates at about that level or a little higher.

The time-honoured response of Britain's singularly numbskull Left, during times of hardship that their own (ill) favoured administrations regularly herald (Labour's only 100% record on anything), is to 'hammer the rich'.

These desperate, suicidal reactions must be resisted.

Most people understand that talent, nay genius, in innovation, leadership and wealth-creation is something only a free market can encourage and reward. Those gifts are actually rare human commodities: not many people have it. Most of us - like me - are happy to have a job. I'm not an innovator or investor or wealth-creator. I'm grateful that there have been and that there are.

So taxing 'success' is actually taxing genius and is route-one to national ruin. (We know - we've been there before).

It kills innovation and growth and destroys not just jobs but prosperity and, in that most pernicious contradiction of socialist prescription, social mobility.

More significantly to me, and this is the most insidious error - of many - of the Marxist critique, it denies individuals a will to change their own - and by direct implication 'the' - world. I regard that will as a human right that government has a sacred duty to encourage.

Socialists, frighteningly, don't.

You choose.

John Coles - A good second from Oxford in a serious subject certainly means George Osbourne has got something between the ears, the university does not give degrees away!

Still going on about this relatively minor matter, then?

Today the ITEM Club forecast that in the coming year the government budget deficit will rise to £180 billion, over 12 percent of GDP.

On that basis, to a crude approximation, whenever the government spends seven pounds, five will have come from its revenue, and two will have been borrowed.

Will it even be possible for the government to borrow that much, notwithstanding its efforts to rig the gilts market?

What will happen if the government finds that it's impossible to borrow that much?

Will it just print whatever is needed?

And what will happen if RBS and Lloyds start to make claims against the "insurance" of their toxic assets, so kindly provided by Alistair Darling for a derisory "premium"?

Will that £180 billion deficit become £280 billion, or £380 billion, or what?

Any thoughts about how to solve this problem, apart from having/not having a 45% tax rate which would raise between zero and £3 billion?

If we agree in principle now with a top rate increase to 45%, people will believe we agree in principle with punishing the rest of the working population with increases on the basic rate of tax thereafter.


jamie is right. 45% is nothing compared to where the tax used to be, even under Thatcher.

I see Norman Tebbit is interviewed for the Sunday Mail tomorrow. He seems to be stirring it up a bit. Also Tim M is quoted too.


I'm enthused by the sheer volume of other ConHomers who feel, as I do, this is a mistake. But I said in the previous debate I was going to let it lie for the sake of party unity and I am.

I absolutely agree with the people who feel that politics should be about principle and not "political strategy".

BUT... we are sitting on the verge of a monumental disaster here, of a type we've not experienced in a long, long time. If ever. If Labour win another term they will do so much horrific damage that our country may never be the same again. I do absolutely believe things are as serious as this.

Consequently, I'm prepared to sit quietly on my hands if our leaders play it tactical and I don't agree. Not because our party doesn't allow discussion, but because the lunatics on the other side want to see us squabbling and disunited and we MUST NOT ALLOW IT.

Just look at them here, trolling around, spinning and needling and trying to find cracks they can exploit. These people do not wish us well.

The time to fight our ideological internal battles and confront the few demons that divide us is AFTER we are in power and able to pull the nation back from the brink.

I say it again.. we HAVE TO WIN the next election, and we have to win with enough of a majority to get the big jobs done. If we do not, our failure will allow the Labour party to complete their grand project and systematically destroy everything we hold dear.

It's that big. It's that serious.

"If 45% is such a bad thing for business and enterprise, and total class war politics, why did it take Mrs Thatcher leave the top rate at 60% for her first nine years in charge? A mere 5% increase in reality is neither here nor there."

Because before the 80s the top rate had been at 83%. Therefore 60% seemed like a blessing. Now that people have got used to a 40% rate the idea of introducing an increased rate 5% higher (when was the last time tax was raised by 5%?) is pretty radical.

"George Osbourne has got something between the ears, the university does not give degrees away!"

They're giving me a masters for doing bugger-all!

"We can't create jobs unless we look after the people who actually create jobs." - Tony Makara. March 21 @ 19:34

To which must be remembered that we can't create wealth unless we cut out those jobs that create more stultifying paperwork and employ more people just to shuffle them around.

Society declines while we continue to pay inflated wages for legions of administrators and managers talking gobbledygook at perpetual meetings and minions who churn out their garbage.

Richard J- Presumably you still had to get the undergraduate degree first. Although I agree Oxford's awarding of automatic Masters' degrees leaves a little to be desired.

@Robert Wilson
Your analysis is stuck in 2005 and things have moved on quite a bit since then - everywhere except in CCHQ it appears.

No one wants to pay more tax at the moment. With a bit of leadership we could roll back the entire Blairite settlement.

Bottom line - do you want to win? Sorry to be Occamite but do you actually, seriously, want to win the next election? Would you have this party do whatever it took to undermine and then defeat a Labour party which is now on the brink of damaging Britain for at least a generation?

I'm sure a lot of people would say 'Yes, but not at any price...' and then reasonably debate what price they would pay, what principle they would leave aside. And then we would have a long conversation about whether these were really 'principles' at all, were they just inherited posturing from a time when Britain was a very different place to how it is now.

But we come back, again and again, to the same question. Do you want to win? Leaving 45% tax in place, sending the signal that all pay their fair share, that we are the party of the many and not the few, that we finally 'get it' (as far as the bulk of the population who still - and how many times must we repeat this - do not trust us yet are concerned). Would you do it?

This is the dividing line. It will be there until the next election and it will cut through more and more arguments, policies, beliefs as we get closer to the day. It cannot be avoided, and it's time Cameron stopped avoiding it. I think hes now starting to do that, and whilst it will be uncomfortable for some it is unavoidable.

For my part, I believe 'The first rule of war is that you win'.

Dennis Cooper is right, the mess that Brown has made of our economy means we can't "commit" to any tax chnages at the moment and our focus as Conservatives has to be on the disaster that Brown has created by his serial deficit budgets since the 2000-01 financial year.

Rehearse this, "Gordon Brown hasn't balanced a budget since before Tony Balir first got re-elected!"

Or this, "Gordon Brown borrowed nearly £200 billion before the bungs and bail-outs even started."

Or this, "Our children and Grandchildren will be paying off Gordon Brown's debts for decades."

If you want to let Brown off the hook and allow the media to have a feeding frenzy on "Tory Split!" stories, carry on as you are.

"Leaving 45% tax in place, sending the signal that all pay their fair share"

Alternatively we could point out to the public that it is economically stupid and will raise bugger-all.

Robert Wilson, Bravo! Precisely the point I have made over on another thread.
We do not want to stifle debate as some allege but we are an army fighting a war. To continue the analogy, I dare say that not everyone fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan is of the same mind about the rights and wrongs, the whys and wherefores but they know they have a job to do and they get on and do it unquestioningly. As you rightly say, "The First rule of war is that you win". Everyone from the Editorship of Conservative Home downwards should realise this and ask themselves that if we end up with a Hung Parliament or worse, what was their role in achieving that?

"Bottom line - do you want to win? Sorry to be Occamite but do you actually, seriously, want to win the next election?"

Yes, which is why Osborne should have kept quiet. His IHT announcement was a stroke of genius so I'm surprised he didn't see the trouble this was going to cause. Did he honestly expect us to nod our heads and say "yeah 45p rate, good idea George"?

Sally, we are not an army fighting a war, we are a political party debating the best way to fix the economic problems of a nation.

The sad reality I see here and on other threads is that even people who accept the 45% measure will do little / nothing are still prepared to go along with it because they want to 'send a message'.

What exactly is that message? Say whatever it takes, even that which is wrong, to win an election? Engage in gesture politics by increasing tax on a group of well paid people because a few less well paid people are resentful?

Should the message not be "Before we even consider taking an extra penny in tax from anyone, we will set about removing the non essential layers of bureaucracy, the duplication of effort and the wasteful spending in areas where government has no business operating that milk the tax pounds you already pay"?

I understand why some people are saying "It's only 5%", "Labour will say we are looking after rich friends", "We've got an election to win". But I do not agree with them because they are trying to come at the problem from the wrong direction and their arguments are simply wrong. If we are to earn the right to serve this country in government then we need to show principled leadership, not follow another party's flawed agenda.

The worst thing we could do is bring about a return of the cosy and damaging consensus politics that so ill-served this country for so long.

"Gideon Osborne is scared witless at the thought of becoming Chancellor - you can see the fear in his eyes"

The person who has fear in his eyes is Darling. Most of the time he also looks on the verge of tears.

Also, people in "the intellectual top-flight" are often lacking in other qualities. In the course of my work I've interviewed MBAs and PhDs who have won academic prizes galore. Unfortunately, they are all too often totally lacking in other qualities. They may be ok for backroom jobs but not for much else.

Robert Wilson 8.04

Yes I want us to win

But is this the right way? In the midst of the worst recession in living memory we are flatlining on 41-42 and some polls have us getting worse. This is only just victory and vulnerable to any improvement in the govt's position. There is no doubt the voter's hate Labour but they do not love/trust us to be any different.

The voters are scared and angry. They want hope and new ideas and fresh thinking. They have finally seen through Blair's stage craft - just as we adopt it.

Accepting a 5% tax rise makes them ask, if we are prepared to do that to our own people when it will raise little money, what will we do to them?

We need something new. We need to say that the Blairite settlement is unsustainable and unaffordable and must change. We must be for small government and low taxes because we believe in them

And voters want them. Do you seriously think that if it had not been for the reaction to the IHT proposal in Oct 2007 that Gordon would not have won his GE and that DC would now be someone elses shadow minister. Its a bit of clue. £2b of tax cuts and our bacon is saved.

You are arguing for 2005, time's have changed. Yes I really want to win. I have an evidence based idea how and its not by copying the policies of a party that every one else despises.

Has anybody actually listened to Osborne, or Hague on Andrew Marr this morning??

The man HAS NOT said that as a party we would specifically implement the 45p tax rate. He HAS NOT said we would even keep it. He HAS said that it would be 'hard to avoid'.

And it may well be. NuLab will probably attempt to implement it asap, to try and get some votes from the harder left. I doubt Osborne would keep it if/when we win power. You only have to listen to Hague this morning, who gave indications on how we would lower spending in other areas, rather than raising a meagre revenue through a higher tax rate.

Still, I would be a little worried if we did stick by it, but I doubt we will. 'Hard to Avoid' is clever politics, as it stops flak from Labour about loving the rich in a downturn whilst not actually committing us to anything.

The more we bicker on here, the more Labour can claim we are divided. So we need to stop getting hot and bothered about a phantom tax rise, and instead focus on debating things that ARE happening, like the massive rise in the National Debt, or the fact that Unemployment is rising at a faster rate than at any other time in history.

In answer to Robert Wilson's question, I don't particularly want to see the Conservatives "win" if all "winning" means is institutionalising the authoritarian failures of New Labour. At present, the Tories seem to be led by a group who have few disagreements with the Labour Party apart from the fact that they, rather than Labour politicians, should be running the country.

The Tories and their press, who inhabit a world where "everyone" earns over £100,000, forget at their peril what "ordinary" really is: only 2% of taxpayers earn more than £100,000 a year. Only 1.3% earn more than £150,000

Middle england is a myth- rich man/poor man
that's all there is!

Unfortunately George Osborne seems to be turning out to be a bit of a lightweight. I suspect that David Cameron will have to do something more than just back his old school chum when things get a bit iffy for young George.

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