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There is an inconsistency in the Tory position. Our rhetoric is one of Britain is in crisis but our policies are steady as she goes.

Funnily enough there probably isn't a contradiction between telling the truth and the Conservatives electoral interests. Voters know they are going to get some medicine and they would respect the doctor who tells them honestly what the path back to full health will look like. That's why Cable is so popular. He is saying we cannot send 50pc of kids to uni. He is saying public sector pensions have to be reformed. He is saying scrap Trident. AND VOTERS LOVE HIM!

I hope it's electoral caution but I fear it's in his DNA.
Much ,much more important than the 50p tax band is how we will reduce Britain's borrowing.
Keeping silent about this now may win us a few extra votes now but what will the reaction be after spending reductions are announced? George should be muych braver than he has been to date.

George Osborne, could hardly say he's going to scrap higher taxes, as his first budget will be 1981 plus.

The first move should be to reverse the 60% tax band created by the removal of the personal allowance for earners earning just over £100k. It is far worse than the 50% band, which only affects people earning over £150k.

The fact that Osborne keeps on using "the many not the few" shows just how obsessed he is about following Labour instead of actually dictating an agenda. The polls show the public thinks the Governemnt is incompetent on the economy and yet we haven't got the balls to actually run any contrasting messages.

I think George was entirely right to effectively side-step the question.

If (as expected) everyone avoids the tax, then why spend time faffing around with the detail at all?

When the public sector needs to be massively cut, and its financing entirely re-thought this really is asking the first mate on the titanic what he will do about the deck chairs as the ship sinks.

Public sector and benefits recipients don't create wealth - they take wealth from the private sector, and then use that stolen wealth to buy products from the private sector -- the private sector is being paid with its own money!!

This obviously isn't sustainable.

In good times, the private sector may tolerate it 'for the greater good' -- but when things are tight and the public sector is bloated and the thefts are threatening the very existence of parts of the private sector it has to change.

Throwing more money at the public sector will just accelerate a flight from (the hard pressed) wealth creating occupations to wealth consuming ones.

Billions pouring into the thumb twiddling public sector? Give me some of that, it beats working for a living.

The trouble is, if Osborne sets anything in stone, by for example writing a shadow budget, then the government can just do a few things which make all the Conservative plans seem implausible. He would have to be constantly defending old policies which are no longer relevant. Its like paying off a kidnapper; do it once and the kidnappings never cease. Do we really want the 50p top rate to be the defining issue of the next election campaign? George Osborne has been clear enough; spending restraint instead of tax increases, so give him a break and don't do Labour's job for them.

It would be ironic if caution was in his DNA. After all most Tories seem to have a big issue with his ability to be a good Conservative Chancellor. Supposing, just supposing he has caution in his DNA. Suppossing just supposing George and Dave are "small c" conservative in their DNA -they might just be worth voting for after all. His interview this morning was good. He avoided the elephant trap. You guys could get locked onto the 50p issue so easily. Osborne ticked a box for me today. He said that his priority was all the tax increases for ordinary people. He will have to prioritise.

You'd be right david1 if the 50p band raised money. It doesn't and will flatten the recovery. That should be Osborne's message.

He announced the inheritance tax cut at the 2007 Party Conference that killed Gordon Brown's hopes of a snap election.

Just think if he hadn't have done that then we might have ended up with at least a hung parliament as we entered the recession and may avoid the debt/pestilence/war that labour have now hard coded into the future of our country.

Which is why I think he's cautious as even good things can have bad consequences.
I think when he's in charge he'll be a bit better, but never be as decisive as we'd like, but I'm open for my opinion to change.

John Reeks you could not be more right. Tim's odd obsession with election losing ideas is bad for the party. George Osborne has skillfully negotiated a minefield over the last year and as a result our lead on economic competence is a record 10 points. He's by far the best performing member of the shadow cabinet after DC and the labour trolls attacking him on sites like this have failed to bring him down - they only attack him so much because they fear him.

Listening to Hammond say on Newsnight last night that the Conservative route to a balance budget was giving front line public sector workers more decision making powers which suggests calling them cautious is an understatement. But not only are they timid it looks like Osborne and co are squandering a god given opportunity to sweep away Browns Heath Robinson interventionist approach to economic management and social provision, but it also squanders the opportunity to rid our selves of some sacred cows of the British political establishment, like the cash we shovel to Europe, like the cash we squander on Aid, like believing we are still a military power, like the Asylum circus that costs us billions to administer, and like the tax credit system. And so on.

This economic crisis puts everything in flux which opens up the opportunity to make significant changes that would never normally be on the table, but its only an opportunity to those who know where they want to take the country and those that have the nerve to seize the opportunity. .

The second numbered point in the article - previous willingness to match Labour's spending plans - was symbolic of something else that ought now to be dead in the water, namely the "Blairite settlement" and the clamour to be seen as the rightful "heir to Blair". Now that the supposedly precious heirloom that the former PM bequeathed has been demonstrated to be a radioactive vat of toxic waste, there is no longer any need to be cautious about the tough measures required to clear it up. George Osborne should seize the moment to show that he is truly equal to this task, or stand aside in favour of one of the many more able candidates who need no introduction here.

To Joanna,

If we can't beat the people who have presided over this economic catastrophe we should all retire from politics. We are in an election winning position because of Labour failure. Cameron and Osborne obviously deserve some credit but not much.

The 50p rate may lose money; but just reversing it will also lose money...

Once people have gone to the effort of rearranging their financial affairs to avoid the 50p rate, they are not going to go to the effort of unwinding that just because the rate is reversed.

Reversing the change would just lose what little the extra 5% ends up actually accounting for...

You have to have a certain amount of caution in opposition as the government have control of the agenda. The problem is that as many arguments as we can make that the tax won't raise much or that it will stunt growth, they are hugely technical arguments that the average voter will find difficult to latch onto. Labour have a simpler argument on higher taxes in this economic climate.

The other point is that Labour desperately want us to oppose this, they want the dividing line. They want to portray themselves as doing bad but necessary things against us doing bad and dangerous things. It is a trap we must avoid.

It is a delicate balancing act that so far has been about right but I do agree that if people are going to elect a Conservative Govt with a decent working majority they will want to have a clear idea of where its going to take Great Britain. That clear focus would also be helpful in deciding priorities. Now the budget is over and a GE is at maximum a year away, it seems to me that a process for setting out our stall has to start and the full set of weaponary has to be brought into position to be unleashed.

What I object to is not that he quite rightly says that it should not be the priority of an incoming Tory government to reverse but that he does not say that he will seek to do so when he gets the chance.

It does also seem odd that at the same time as he savages Labour's economic legacy he adopts most of their policies and even uses their rhetoric. The "many not the few" is merely the sanitised language of class warfare, another way of saying "us and them" and we ought never to use it.

While the BBC report as they do there is little alternative than to be as anodyne as possible.

The guardianistas would love to paint toff tory Cameron as supporting "extreme right wing policy".

"Do we really want the 50p top rate to be the defining issue of the next election campaign?"

Its an irrelevance, it represents 1.1% of the hole we are in. Vince Cable is right, we are only going to tackle the budget deficit by taking out whole areas of Government expenditure, and streamlining other areas. We cannot afford things like the tax credit system that loses billions a year by wrongly allocating tax credits.

We do not want to get drawn into a debate about marginal rates of tax. GO is right, the highest priority has to be ways of finding lower taxes for the many. I would much rather he lowered the coming rise in National Insurance than mess around with a 50% tax band immediately.

Remember, the 1979 Conservative manifesto only ever argued that income tax rates should be in line with the European average and the higher tax bands widened. Perhaps someone could tell us what it would mean were we to implement that policy now?

But George Osborne is also the man who matched Labour's spending plans when it was obvious that Britain was living beyond its means.

It was only obvious to those who follow such things. Man on the Street was blissfully sleepwalking, and allowed to remain so by the mainstream media.

GO presumably thought that, while the economics was wrong, it was a political winner to neutralise Labour’s most effective attack – that Conservatives are cutters. If politics went before sound economics then it's politics that’s in his DNA.

However, I'm not at all sure whether he was right or wrong: whether we would be stronger or weaker now if he had put economics first then.

Both tactics and DNA, I hope.
Any Chancellor needs to be a cautious man. He is the nation's bank manager.
Also we must not, need not, give hostages to fortune by making promises now on anything until he sees the books, post election.
As always the perceptive Matthew Parish (is he on the list of worthwhile peers?) has it prettyr right. We will reduce taxes if we can and if the nation can afford it.

Listening to Hammond on Newsnight trying to counter Ms Balls' arguments for yet more debt creation, I was left with the impression that he thinks the public are imbeciles who don't want to be told the truth.

As usual, Vince Cable spoke with clarity and conviction even though I believe some of his proposals are wrong-headed. Hammond, in contrast has this lawyerly nit-picking manner that is totally unconvincing; he has more that enough ammunition at his disposal, why doesn't he use it?

As I understand it there is a big story on the inheritance tax pledge which has never come out and actually reinforces your claims on GO and DC caution. So it isn't contradictory. They took the plaudits and of course the winners write history but the run up wasn't so smooth.

I'm going to give George the benefit of the doubt, Labour have been laying so many traps and potential "gotchas" in it's vain attempt are garnering some sort of response from the party they can spin to the public that being cautious till the election is a good idea.

Give Goerge the benefit of the doubt for now.
and easy for Vince Cable ( and any other LD in National Govt) to say whatever they feel like.
they're never going to have to carry out their unbalanced, unushamedly populist plans.
Children with toy swords,basically.

Its tactics from here on and the major part of that is not get conned into announcing major strategy which the government could target as "wickedTory's" etc.

The Opposition are under no obligation to propose policy and have the luxury of being free to criticise the government.

Do not get bogged down in detail. Themes, opposition on all fronts, general derisive disapproval------thats the privilege of opposition.

" I was left with the impression that he thinks the public are imbeciles who don't want to be told the truth. "

Yes it was grim, to propose closing the £175 billion deficit by giving front line staff decision making powers wouldn't even be believed by imbeciles.

Yet again the Shadow Treasury team have fired a blank.

I fear that an examination of Osborne's DNA will reveal it is defined by electoral calculation. The number one priority of the heirs to Blair will be a second term. They'll do all they need to win that second term. Fixing Britain will be a low priority compared to that.

Talking of the BBC, quite a lot of the top people there will be personally caught by the 50% (actually considerably more when you add in personal allowance lost, plus NI and relief lost on pension contrs).

Hopefully we may see less pro-Labour bias when their own pockets get hit !

George Osborne is right to be cautious now but like Tim I fear it might continue after the election. We need bold measures to undo Labour's chaos.

As always with C and O, you have to ask yourself, what would an opportunist do? then it makes sense.

Osborne and Cameron will say that they won't cut the rate, to appeal to the 98% of voters unaffected. When they get in, they will cut it after a year or so, as, with nothing to lose, they can exhibit their class interests.

Quiz question. The polls show the public thinks the Government is incompetent on the economy. Do you therefore (a) copy their policies or (b) distance yourselves from them? I think definitely (a). It's definitely better to keep as close to really crap policies - the public will love that.

Matthew Parris does not have to win a General Election, David Cameron does.

Vince Cable has zero chance of ever becoming Chancellor. George Osborne does.

This policy is WORKING. You only have to real the anguished pieces by Steve Richards and John Rentoul today to understand that.

One of the most refreshing aspects of Dave's leadership since 2005 has been the way the Party no longer walks into these NL elephant traps. 50p is yet another in a long line. Don't forget who is advising Brown behind the scenes, and calling the shots- Mandelson and Campbell.

Lets leave the nasty medicine for when we have looked at the books once in Government.

Why should Osborne walk into Gordon Brown's trap? If the Conservatives had pledged to reverse it, we would have been accused by Labour as a Party more interested in the well off.

The 50p tax rate is less important than focusing on reducing borrowing, Which is what Osborne has said he will do.

He doesn't like the 50p tax rate, but there's nothing he cand do about it this year and there will be more important things to act on when he becomes Chancellor next Summer.

The scandal of this budget is that again, Brown has shown himself more interested in trying to trip up the Conservatives than in sorting out the unbelieveable mess he's got the economy into.

The apologists for Cameron & Osborne (Joanna, London Tory, North East Conservative) are just like their heroes. Their arguments are always couched in what's best for the party and never the country.

They will of course say that the interests of the country are best served by a Conservative victory but by the time they are in power the habits of mind of always thinking electorally will reign supreme.

Geoarge Osborne is right to be cautious because what is clear from this year's Budget is that Gordon Brown doesn't expect to win the next General Election, in fact, HE DOESN'T WANT TO WIN THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION.

But, what is worse, in his delayed proposals for cutting public expenditure, the increase in fuel duty, the massive increase in borrowing requirements, the 50p tax rise on the rich, and the delayed general tax rises for the rest of us, he has set a trap for the next Conservative government, and his advisers are already
writing their dodgy emails, and their propaganda attacks, on the next Tory Chancellor.

This Budget was all about party politics and there was nothing about the economy of the nation. Don't take my word for that. Listen to them! Yvette Cooper et al!

Osborne should have a prepared list of examples of specific spending cuts with which to answer the inevitable question: what would you cut ? - preferably ones which few could disagree with such as:

- scrapping ID cards
- scrapping regional government
- cutting government consultancy and communications budgets

This would help to avoid the appearance of evasiveness when being drawn into specifics.

[email protected] - What is wrong with admitting we are a party that is more interested in the well off? That we are more interested in making more people more well off.That we are more interested in encouraging the wealth creators who will make more people have secure work, that we want more people to have higher incomes and keep more of the money they earn. That we are a party which is more interested in giving more people more freedom to run their own lives and finances in the way they wish and not have their money wasted for them by a Nanny State. What is wrong in saying that we want to give people more choice in every aspect of their lives and encourage them to have more personal responsibility for for the up-bringing and education of their children, for their families and for their lives. Above all what is wrong with us admitting we are a party which regards the Government as the servant of the people, to interfere
as little as possible in their daily and personal lives and that all the function of it should be is to provide the framework that which encourages all the above. In 1951 Churchill campaigned under the slogan 'Set the people free' - it worked then, it will work now. Matthew Parris is right.


I take the view that the shittiest Conservative Govt is one hundred times better than the best Labour one.

Because our Party fell into these NL elephant traps for 15 years, we not only ended up with Iraq..we got gems like the hunting ban..the public smoking ban....ID cards...42 day detention...the suspension of Habeus Corpus....H.I.Ps.....porn on the public purse.....and now a Depression.

As I said, if you doubt this tactic is working, read the Labour press today.

The 50% tax band is utterly irrelevant. The only people who are likely to be caught by it are overpaid public servants working for central or local government, publically funded agencies or quangos; such people have just about zero market value outside the UK so we will not lose them and it would matter if we did. The remainder of the rich pay very little tax anyway. They become non-doms, move offshore for 183 days per year, ensure they are paid in share options and thus limit their tax liability to 18% capital gains tax, employ their wives as directors or find numerous others loopholes. Neither party has the stomach to do anything about seriously increasing the real tax for these people.

Like it or not, the overwhelming bulk of the taxes are paid by the middle and skilled working classes. Too much is then consumed by the underclass who can’t/won’t/don’t work. If immigrants from EE can pick fruit and stack shelves then why do our own indigenous Neets? The benefits paid to the able bodied MUST be cut.

The key to our future success is “real” jobs, producing goods and services for which others will pay. This means ensuring our businesses are competitive by reducing their regulation and costs. Above all, that truly wicked tax on jobs, otherwise known as Employers’ National Insurance must be cut, preferably to zero.

As for George Osborne, he should tell it like it is which means massive cuts in whole areas of state involvement (quangos, EU membership, social services, state funded nursery schools, tax credits, subsidies to Muslim and other ethnic minorities, IVF on the NHS, bogus university departments with make believe professors teaching imaginary disciplines, the Olympic Games, and much, much more). The time for being “nice” is long gone.

Those who continue to call for an immediate, detailed exposition of Conservative economic policy intentions now grow fewer by the day. At last, perhaps, these impatient folk are beginning to understand why Cameron and Osborne have not done this and nor, if they are sensible will they until the next general election campaign gets under way.
First, as the Opposition Party they are under no obligation to give any details until a time of their own choosing. Second, were they unwise enough to do so in the face of such rapidly-changing economic and financial conditions both world-wide and on the domestic front, little time would pass before they were having to waste effort in defending policies that had already become out-of-date; while having to field criticsms for having done so. This would see them playing staight into the government`s hands while the latter try desperately to divert public attention from the hole into which they have pushed the national economy. The concept of "scrappage" is a new one to me but I believe it deserves a wider application than to that of the motor trade. It seems to be the perfect word to describe what Brown and Darling have done to the United Kingdom and its finances.
Let us be in no doubt that Cameron, Osborne and their teams understand both what has to be done and the likelihood of the task becoming even more onerous as the next 14 months inch by; which is why Cameron called for this "living dead" government to get out now and face the country with an electoral choice before things get any worse.
As to the 50% higher income tax rate, although it contravenes Conservative instincts and should be repealed when possible, be in no doubt that those to whom it applies will be sufficiently aware and smart enough to avoid having to pay it. The financial implications will therefore probably be minimal. It is the signal that it gives which is more significant.
For Darling to call for unity of purpose in the country after such a blatantly partisan Budget is too cynical for words, while revealing that Labour is dying on its feet for the same reasons that it always does; no money, a poverty of realistic policies and an inability to do anything more constructive than make feeble attempts to retain a grasp on office. What a prospect!

Agreed London Tory but I don't just want Tories to be better than Labour (a very low benchmark) I actually want them to be good full stop.

"I take the view that the shittiest Conservative Govt is one hundred times better than the best Labour one. "

I'm afraid I disagree.

Life isn't that black and white.

DCMX -and if the Tories are going to be good not just better that means governing properly rather than attaching to tribal totems. The way to deal with Laboutr tax rises is to put a whole budget together that starts the process of reducing governemnt debt and the tax burden for all over time.

I agree 100% with Iain first comment.

Now is an almost unique opportunity - dare I say an opportunity that occurs less than once in a generation - to massively reform government, particularly its size and its cost.

There is nothing left to lose - be bold, reform and rebuild.

Give people the power to take control of their own lives with minimal government intervention.

60,000,000 heads are better than 600.

Transition is painful, but we are already hurting, so it won't notice so much.

Not 'more of the same', instead we need 'the right amount of something new'.

Extravention - get the government entirely out of areas that are not its concern.

The belief that the current tactic of saying nothing is working assumes that if DC and GO said something the Tory party's poll rating would go down. What evidence is there for this? Polls suggest most people think the state is too big and should be cut, so why aren't party bigwigs saying this?

DC's strategy of saying nothing and hugging hoodies/huskies/Rwandan orphans put Gordon Brown so far ahead in the opinion polls he considered calling a snap election. He was deterred when our party showed some leadership/balls and came up with a real policy.

The risk at the next election is that people express their distate for this government by abstaining or voting for a fringe party (eg UKIP, BNP), giving us a hung parliament. DC and GO need to give people a positive reason to vote Tory - what will that be?

"I believe that the British people are ready to be told the truth. I'd like us to have a mandate for what we do in government and to start telling voters now ..." - well said Tim. The electors have got to be treated seriously, or they will fall for the line (which the socialists will take after the election) that the nasty medicine was unnecessary Tory spite.

The CCO story has forever been that “they will steal our policies” – always a specious excuse for having none, but never more so than now. But, if there was sense in it, why are we not stealing Vince Cable’s policies now ? He suggested in last night’s Newsnight that the Lib Dems would cut public sector pensions and government programmes. Philip Hammond should have stuck his fist in the air and said “Yes !” to both of those, because if we are afraid (as we seem) to take responsibility for the nasty decisions, the sainted Vince Cable thus gives us the cover we need. Alas, last night, Mr Hammond seemed to be transfixed by the bulging eyes of the mad Yvette.

Why do we let this collapsed wreckage of a government get between us and our fellow citizens ? They need us and we need them, and we have a year to settle how we will take the pain together. Brown and Darling and Cooper and Balls are a gibbering irrelevance.

"Let us be in no doubt that Cameron, Osborne and their teams understand both what has to be done "

There is precious little evidence of that. They stayed linked with Labours sepending plans long after it became clear the plans were unaffordable. They still intend to keep the Tax Credit system. There is no evidence they want to limit the amount of money we are shovelling into the EU. They still intend to fill out the Swiss Bank acconts of Afrcan Despots, with the African Despots Benelovant fund, other wise known as our Aid budget. Is there any indication they intend to limit our military involvement around the world, if they have I missed the announcement. Are they going to scrap our participation with the EU military force? The asylum system is a circus that costs us billions are they going to sort out this mess?

resident leftie @ 10:16 said:

'As always with C and O, you have to ask yourself, what would an opportunist do? then it makes sense.'

Not true. It wasn't opportunist to say that another discretionary stimulus was unaffordable. It wasn't opportunist to oppose the VAT cut. It wasn't opportunist to say that parts of society are breaking down and this is what makes government too expensve.
Yes of course they want the opportunity to take over the responsibility for government. They will also strive, as far as possible, to do that on their own terms. Ultimately Labour's disgusting game playing will hurt them more than it hurts us. The real worry is that in the meantime it will hurt all the people of this Country.

resident leftie @ 10:16 also said:

'with nothing to lose, they can exhibit their class interests.'

Vicious nonsense. What class are people who earn 100, 150 k + ? Is there a special indoctrination center which you get sent to when you file a tax return with that level of earnings? Do you get sent one of those glossy government leaflets... :

'Dear Citizen,

We notice that you now earn a counter-revolutionary amount of money. We find this despicable (unless you work government, at any level).
Now you are in this tax band your status henceforth be officially downgraded to
'Posh Git'. Please note that this status will be encoded into your ID card and your subcutaneous ID chip, and into the chips of any pets you own. Furthermore this status will be encoded into these devices for your descendents in perpetuity and their pets....'

Iain is correct. The Tory leadership will lack credibility unless and until they can show they have fire in their bellies to tackle the real problems of our country; these problems are now so serious that they threaten to overwhelm us and undermine our democracy.

The real choice is not longer between Labour and Conservative, it is between a democratically elected Conservative government or, if that fails, a new Cromwell who will rule be decree.

"That's why Cable is so popular. He is saying we cannot send 50pc of kids to uni. He is saying public sector pensions have to be reformed. He is saying scrap Trident. AND VOTERS LOVE HIM!"

To give him some Credit G.O. is saying that ID cards will go (he certainly wins my vote on that issue alone). 50% of children going to university was always a rather stupid plan. It is clear that many of those graduates were expected to find work in the public sector. We do however need at least 50% of our children to follow some form of higher education. Otherwise we will simple not have the skilled people we need and will fall back on busing in foreigners (as in the NHS). So we need to do some hard thinking about how we raise the status of examination routes other than the degree.
I do agree with those who say the public is ready for the truth. So why is G.O. so cautious? Perhaps he is scared that being the messenger of bad news will undermine our electoral chances.In which case it is up to us the agitators and commentators, to point out over and over, that the lack of figures and clear policies is starting to hinder our prospects. Its time for a bit of courage to go with the convictions I think. Despite the rather poor educational system in this country the public is far from stupid and can be reasoned with.

The truth is that yesterday's Budget was a political one in the sense that Brown didn't set out to solve any problems. They have accepted that they will lose the next election and are only concerned with leaving the biggest mess they can for an incoming Tory Government.

Their hope is that over the following 5 years, the Tories will become so unpopular because of the remedial policies required, that they (Labour) can sneak back in early.

The truth though may be different because by not taking proper action yesterday, the cost of British Government Debt has increased and the IMF still beckons. Brown and Labour may not last until June 3rd 2010.

Who knows what kind of dire mess Cameron and Osborne will inherit ? Only once they are in power and got the Ship of State off the rocks and floating again can they consider "Tory Policies". I don't want to see the Conservatives going "Tribal" in the way Brown does, let us get some good efficient Government first.

There is nothing left to lose - be bold, reform and rebuild.

YES!... clear away the debris before starting to rebuild instead of covering it with more-of-the-same colourless slime.

I would say that there is really a high level of thinking in Tim's post and the comments.
Ultimately there seem to be two points worth making

The first of these is the sequence of events. Yes, state spending will cause debt to rise by £500 billion in three years but it does not have to do so. Government could act now as a private business would have to do-by cutting public sector wages pensions and make cash limits- this month to match falling wages in the private sector but inst eadit is increasing public sector wages-in a depression !-plus of course make all the other savings of useless expenditure already enumerated by other posters. Every day that passes without action adds to the debt.One feels that the Tories have simply accepted the £500 billion addition to debt and are congratulating themselves-quite rightly- for not backing further spending in the form of fiscal stimulus.

Second, Iain and David at Home have quite rightly identified that a crisis creates an oppurtunity and 'should not be wasted' as Rahm Emmanuel says.It is time that the sacred cows were slaughtered and many have been mentioned.The Eu and all its works. Foreign aid-again much of this goes to the EU who then decided what to do with it-you wont hear that from Cameron.Immigration and asylum-our proud-yuck- tradition of giving asylum is the biggest sick joke and is a direct assault on the living standards and social cohesion of poorer Britons by wealthy liberals. Then, there is welfare,health and education all of which could quite easily lose 50% of their costs.

Again , I have to ask - why do we need seven times more nurses per hospital bed than in the pre-National Health days.

It appears again,that as in the sequence of events and the fatalistic acceptance of the £500 billion debt addition-no,you could not do that in the private sector-,the Tories have not thrown over the Labour'narrative' and still frightened of opening up verboten areas for consideration.

Whatever measure need to be taken by D.C and G.O are a direct result of this dysfunctional Government. The electorate will understand that as a fact; Labour are to blame. They know Labour have failed badly and wasted the good years. The electorate are absolutely fedup with Labour's reckless borrowing and spending.The economy has been decimated by their mismanagement and our children and grand children saddled with the biggest, unfair debt in history. Why the heck should they be penalised because hypocritical Labour champagne socialists cannot manage good governance?

There is no need for naval gazing, the country is in a dire state after the mismanagement by these greedy, sleazy bigots. The electorate knows the economy needs drastic emergency surgery. No more PC clap trap, a firm hand is needed on the scalpel to excise the damage and both D.C & G.O will provide that.

The absolute nonsence being talked by the self-opinionated Mandleson and the pathetic Mirror's political 'editor' Macguire is pure bluff and conjecture. These friends of Brown, these bigots know Labour are finished and will be consigned to the dustbin of history for the next 50 years.Yesterday's Budget was an obituary for this hopeless Government.

Bring on the elction soon and put this country out of its misery.

". So why is G.O. so cautious? Perhaps he is scared that being the messenger of bad news will undermine our electoral chances"

What I think people are fed up with is being fed a load of guff from politicians, who sit atop a bloated state that has nothing to do with the delivery of services, who are incapable of getting to grips with the bloated state, and who are fixated with shovelling British tax payers cash abroad.

I do not get the impression that the Westminster village has any idea about the true financial horrors that face us. They are doing what they always do, playing their political games.

I listened/watched George Philip and Ken respond to the budget. When asked what cuts they would make they flunked it. They came across weak and indecisive. I fear it will hurt us with the voters. I do not want ALL the cuts spelled out but how about some. The LDs say they will cut ID cards and other things, these 3 charlies are unwilling to even say they will cut ID cards unless (in Hammonds case on DP) the LDs say they will and its a "we will do that". Weak weak weak. They simply refuse to answer the question. It looks awful...

Is this another sign of George being too distracted by non-Treasury matters?

Mr Montgomerie - then lets wait until the election. The conservatives are already saying that public expenditure needs to be cut back. And already people like Paxman are saying where where?

And of course if you say where then group after group are invited to oppose.

Events have still to unravel. The debt may get bigger still, the toxic debts may grow. Who knows what economic conditions will be in 12 months. It is clear crystal clear that no promise can be made re 50p and other things. An intent a desire is quite another. But to go into an election like Mr M and Mr P 'bravely' propose is just plain dumb assed stupid.

I didn't see any caution in proposing the bank bailout as the riducuously expensive and ineffective solution to get 'credit flowing again', or proposing a 600m spend on training engineers funded by 'savings' (whilst also not supporting other issues because he 'needs to see the accounts first')

Osborne's problem is not caution but inconsistency and incompetence.

My good friend Kevin Davis @ 0944 would do well to take note that one of the first things Geoffrey Howe did in his post-election 1979 budget was to cut the Standard Rate from 33% to 30% and the top rate from 83% to 60%, where it stayed until the Lawson budget of 1988. This increased tax revenues considerably.
The 50% rate is not about raising revenue, it is a crude political gimmick and no-one with a serious claim to respect as a present or future Chancellor, of any party, should have anything to do with it.

"It is clear crystal clear that no promise can be made re 50p and other things"

So why did Osborne propose spending 600m on training engineers?

You can use the 'we can't make promises until we see the books' line on certain policy areas and be taken seriously if you continue to make spending pledges.

If Osborne can find 600m for engineers, he could just as easily revoke the 50p tax rate.

Much brave talk above about "what the people want now is....." Oh really? What is the basis of these judgements other than the strongly-held feelings of the people that offer them here. If Cameron and Osborne were to do all that is suggested by the "do-it-now" brigade and they turn out to be wrong; the electorate takes fright and not for the first time, goes for Jam Today, where will our friends be then? They will have the luxury of slipping away into the all-pervading gloom while Cameron and Osborne are being castigated by those who will tell them that they fluffed the best chance in two decades of returning to office.
Had they done-it-now twelve months ago, the election would have been very much in doubt. Even six months ago Brown might have scraped back. It really is a judgement that must be left to those who will have to carry the can, one way or the other, and all this ranting serves no good purpose now

"He said that his first priority was to stop Labour's intended increase in tax on lower earners."

George is absolutely right - and don't forget that behind Labour's thinking is an intended Great Big Elephant Trap for us to fall into should we be sufficiently unwary.

I am looking forward to the weekend. I think our Conference is going to be barnstormer!

Labour's reversion in the Budget to its high-tax basic instincts also needs to be seen in the context of the party's current fearful obsession with the BNP. Fearing that, at both the Euro-elections and the General Election, BNP will eat into Labour's core vote, Labour needs to impress that core vote with a tax grab. The entry of BNP into the political mainstream (in the same way as similar parties elsewhere in Europe) is emerging as a political fact: the question is simply whether BNP bleeds primarily the Conservatives or primarily Labour. To ensure it is rather the latter, Conservative attacks on BNP should focus on BNP's socialist aspects.

"What is the basis of these judgements other than the strongly-held feelings of the people that offer them here."

john parkes , on the basis of our record, a record that's been proven to be more correct than Osborne or Cameron's. A record of calling for the Conservatives to challenge Brown and Labour on their economic record when Cameron and Osborne chose to fall in behind Labours unsustainable spending plans, and chose not to hold Labour to account.

I can't direct you to post I've put up on the Conservative Home site, but can direct you to posts I've put on the BBC Today program messageboard.


Sept 2006



Firstly, Somebody - I think it was George Osborne - said, a month or two ago, that they needed to see the 'books open', before they could know the full detail of what needed to be mended. That seems reasonable to me. And since this PM is into political tactics first and foremost!, every time George Osborne opens his mouth Brown is hovering to pounce (well probably Alistair Campbell)! GO must be aware of this, so why on earth should he waste his time and energy?!

Alan Carcas @ 10.44 - 'George Osborne is right to be cautious, because what is clear from this year's Budget is that Gordon Brown doesn't expect to win the next General Election, in fact, HE DOESN'T WANT TO WIN THE NEXT GE.'

While I would dispute, somewhat, your conclusion about Brown, I would definitely go along with the rest of your comment (not quoted), and would like to add, that given the general vindictiveness having been shown by various ministers recently, in this government, I would suggest that when the Shadow Cabinet assume power, they will find that what is known as a 'scorched earth policy' or a Hampton Court Maze, will best describe the conditions that they have to take over from.

People have been saying that tactics would get dirty, in the lead up to the next GE, perhaps there should be betting as to just HOW DIRTY, or rather how much MORE dirty they can get!!!

I really wonder if Brown and Darling are insane. Do they really believe that they are rescuing the economy? If so, they are becoming like tyrants who when thengs unravel start retreating from reality. Remember Hitler in the later stages of the war having final gambles and moving phantom armies around to stop the Russians in their tracks and hurl them back to the Urals.

If this analysis is correct, the insanity of Brown and Darling will become more severe and increasingly obvious.

By the time of the next election the mental state of Prime minister and Cancellor should be evident to most of the country and they will vote accordingly. The Tories simply have to be candid in that they are inheriting an appalling mess, created by deranged minds, and that recovery will be painful.

Patsy is absolutely right when she points out that Brown is waiting to pounce. He is a dangerous enemy, and I should think that George O has this well worked out.
I see his DNA as being cautious at his inner being, in that he spots the elephant traps, and moves round them, carefully, and circumspectly, but he can turn on a mercurial sleight of hand, and out fox labour. The trolls are working hard right now, Do not feed. GO and DC know exactly what they are doing. They know the country is in a mess. Who doesnt. They know Brown will be watching and waiting. They do not intend to feed him any lines to spin. I should think GO will look at the books, say "Oh my GAWD!!" and then, and only then, can the conservatives put foreward a rational plan to rescue the country. This rescession is not going away any time soon. It may do a little hop skip out of sight, then return with a vengeance. It will need long term planning, not short term fixes. What Brown is doing, is feeding triple gins to a drunk. It wont work.

The 50p tax hike is a distraction - the real point is why should anyone, rich or poor, have to pay so much tax to a heavily-centralised state, thus losing the incentive to create wealth in the first place? Even 25% is far too much for anyone. Osborne's right on the money. We need to move to a smaller state - which can be done without cutting services - by reducing the non-essential and the bureaucractic, and so being able to charge less.

The biggest question to come out of yesterday`s budget is are Osborne and Cameron stupid enough to walk into the trap Brown is trying to set for them so he can make the next election a class devide election and paint the Tories as the party of the rich.
I think many on this site are stupid enough to do it but I don`t think Cameron and Osborne are and that is Labour`s biggest problem because now this is one of there very few lines of attack.

Nobody knows what the economic situation will be six months from now never mind next June. We'll write the 2010/11 budget in 2010. Hopefully, we'll them put actions in their proper order; first cut the state - including reform of health, education, welfare,quangoes, general waste etc., then expenditure, then taxation.

Dear Iain at 13.33. I do not dispute your consistent activity in drawing the attention of everyone to your strongly held views. The question I am trying to ask, obviously not very successfully, is who do you represent other than yourself? What is your empirical evidence to support your view that what you say reflects the verified opinions of anyone else? And does it occur to you that you might possibly be wrong; and if you are, do you understand that you will carry no responsibility whatsoever for your error of judgement? This does not mean that you should be denied your opinion or the forum in which to state it. Merely to ask that you give a little time to people who do not happen to agree with you

The 50p (actually 60p because you lose your personal allowance over 100k) is a carefully laid trap from Gordon Brown.

The Shadow team have handled it beautifully.

Labour have broken yet another promise but we have said, we don't think that it's right but may have to accept it in the short term because the priority is to scrap the NI hike.

Even the BBC portrayed it as cynical politics.

The country is in economic crisis (because of his incompetence) and Gordon's playing games.

This is the same man who visited Iraq and announced troop withdrawals during the 2007 Conservative Party Conference.

He is beneath contempt.

pp @ 09.10 - Your comment was such a clear description of the difference between the public and private sectors, AND how the public sector NEEDS the private sector to feed off. It is a pity that your comment could not be transfered to very large posters!!, to inform less politically aware!

So as Brown does all he can to demolish the private sector in pursuit of Marxist dogma and 'equality', he seems unable to acquire basic facts, that even NON-university people on this site are able to absorb, regarding the balance needed between the public and private sector in an economy - its not very difficult!

If the private sector continues to be plundered to feed the public sector -fatcats-, and the benefit state, even the IMF will decide they can't bale us out; nobody will want to lend Brown money - because he has made it quite clear that he does NOT know how to manage money; nobody will buy government bonds (or not enough), and there will be NO more money growing on trees (other people's trees) for Mr. Brown to waste.

Those public sector fatcats will find their new rich money, and second homes worthless!!
They will be in same position as the MIDDLE classes (whatever they are) that Mr. Brown/Darling has aimed this budget at - NO not just the rich - read 'Matthew's' comment @ 09.06 - the middle-classes' including those people that Newlabour encouraged to go out and spend, to 'take on' the middle-class! Imagine how betrayed that 'new' middle class group will feel, when they finally realise the lies that they have been told!

One of the better throwaway lines I came across in another blog:
This Budget is the Page 3 Budget:
Bigger better busts

"He used the Blairite words, 'we want to protect the many, not the few' to explain his decision."

I really, really wish I could believe that. Seriously.(remember I'm not a member of the Labour party)

These are words lefties need to write down. They can be used against the Cameron/Osborne government (assuming we get one!) in much the same way "no more return to boom and bust" is currently being used against Brown.

If this is the beginning of the end (and I still hope it won't be) then Labour has left us a legacy of a minimum wage, tax credits and EMA for less well off families and (finally!) higher taxes on the rich. Not a lot, but at least it is something to show for 12 years.

Well said, J.S. I agree with every word.

George was right in what he said. He is being honest with people. Our first priority should always be the taxes that wil hit more people, such as the NI rise. The 50p Tax band is not something we would normally even think about, but these are hardly normal times. It will raise barely any money in the long term, but as was emphasised last night in several Budget analyses, it will get something in the short term, and any money is good money. Im sure Osborne is being electorally canny, avoiding making it an issue with which Labout can bash us, such as 'party of the rich' and other such rubbish. As the most recent PoliticsHome opinion survey showed, these kind of attacks are widely seen as being the best hope NuLab has.

We need to give Osborne and his team time to look at the actual books before committing to anything, rather than bitching about how it doesn't fit with our ideology. It is a cynical political move by Brown, and the Shadow Cabinet have handled it well. Lets concentrate on winning the election first, and making the changes needed an get this country back on track.

john [email protected]

I do not think that Iain, with whom I generally agree, represents a majority view in the country.

Sadly, the majority still think that a perceived need for something drives the entitlement for the same. Young children tend to think thus and, for at least 20 years or so, we have been infantilised and feminised. The “Mummy State” will provide all our wants, or so we think. We apply this “want driving entitlement” philosophy to ourselves (I want an iPod so I should go and buy one on my credit card) and to the wider society (teenage mum and her umpteenth partner are beating up Baby X so more social workers are required to stop them).

The result is that we, as a society, have been living way above our income. The repeated election of New Labour was both a manifestation and a fulfilment of this desire. The Cameroons are as they are because a “tell it like it is” party would not get much support. The problem is that this sort of behaviour inevitably ends in tears and there really is not, and never has been, enough money for all those who “need” iPods and social workers.

I think that the penny is beginning to drop amongst some people but whether we, as a people, will come to our senses and grow up before the whole house goes up in flames remains to be seen.

David_at_Home at 17.11
I agree wholeheartedly. I feel that speaking out now poses electoral risks we need not yet take. Too many of our people still have their fingers crossed in the hope that this is just a dreadful dream which in the event will not have to be faced. Even though there might be some who have an understanding of the difficult and hard times that lie ahead even so, many of them will be shocked to discover the size and reality of the great burdens we shall soon have to bear.
I fear for our country for the reasons that you have outlined so very clearly. I do not disagree, I think, with much of what Iain feels we must achieve. It is his timing that I believe is wrong. Anyway when in due course we all find ourselves in the same boat, I don`t doubt we shall row hard together so that we get through the awful times we shall surely face. I still believe that while our nation is slow to grasp reality and thus loses battles, given the right leadership we still have it in us to win this war.

Rupert Butler at 11.33 said:

"The CCO story has forever been that “they will steal our policies” – always a specious excuse for having none, but never more so than now. But, if there was sense in it, why are we not stealing Vince Cable’s policies now?"

Yes, we must surely be in the end game by now and we must go for the jugular, because we simply cannot afford another 14 months of this government.

This is an excellent debate; a lot of people contributing in a measured way very good opinions. CCHQ would do well to read it carefully.

Others have pointed out that this huge economic mess provides an equally huge opportunity for many people in the next government to show greatness. If in doubt about what to do, the yardstick must clearly be:

"What is in the best interests of the nation?"

We cannot afford to have anyone on board concerned mainly about their 'legacy' or simply being PM.

Now is the time to reveal a few cuts that we would start to make on day one, as already suggested by Vince Cable, as well as conservative commentators: the ID card scheme, RDAs, public sector final salary pension schemes, all Guardian 'non-jobs', many quangos, excessive redtape and one or two really big areas of expenditure possibly Trident or leaving the EU - but leave out the 50p tax and the hunting ban until work has started on the real priorities.

Posted by: Conand | April 23, 2009 at 11:46

Vicious nonsense. What class are people who earn 100, 150 k + ? Is there a special indoctrination center which you get sent to when you file a tax return with that level of earnings? Do you get sent one of those glossy government leaflets... :

If you don't believe in social class, you are going to be living on Planet Conand on your own.

Oh come off it, Resident Leftie, class is so 1950s! I'm not sure I believe in it any longer.

There are very many people earning in excess of £150K with whom I certainly not wish to hang out with. Also my car is so old it qualifies for Mr Darling’s subsidy to buy a new one whereas my socialist friend and neighbour buys a new car every three years. Does all this imply that I am now “lower class? If not then why not?

And what class do you put yourself into, I wonder?

Resident leftie, what makes you think that C & O would distort policy in order to look after their own?

And I think Conand has a point. You do seem to be equating class and cash.

Look,you can divide the public debt and overspending crisis into two parts
1. Whats happened-about £60 billion so far plus the undetermined costs of the bank bailout. These have happened and to that extent they are money gone.
2. The rest of the £500 billion over 3 years or £700 billion over 5 years.

Excuse me, this has not been spent-it could be stopped by determined action next week by a s trong government applying cash limits and policy,pay and pension cuts-exactly as any private organization would do.

So why should Cameron not put down a motion calling for the reduction of the public deficit from the absurd £175 billion to say £50 billion this year and nil next year. He does not need a laundry list but he could include some examples such as reducing the costs of Parliament by 50per cent,reducing public sector pay by an overall 10% and reducing net payments to the EU to nil.
That was not too difficult was it, and you are already 25% plus of the way there.

" It is his timing that I believe is wrong. "

john parkes , I am glad what appeared to be a wide gulf between us is actually just a difference in timing, and yes whilst I would agree that one has to be very careful in what 'cuts' are put in the frame, I do believe the mood in the country is a desire to confront the problems head on, the Question time audience last night showed that very clearly.

Posted by: Mark Fulford | April 23, 2009 at 21:47

Resident leftie, what makes you think that C & O would distort policy in order to look after their own?

And I think Conand has a point. You do seem to be equating class and cash.

I'd agree that it's not absolutely as straightforward as a direct link, but wouldn't you agree that he and the many other multimillionaires on the Tory frontbench share a class interest with money of the earning above £150k, just as he did with IHT? In contrast, Gordon Brown voted himself a tax rise.

Incidentally, do you or Conand actually think this isn't his plan?

I think this 50% rate will be added to the queue of taxes to be reduced. It will not be reduced before employer's NI.

But your accusation was more sinister: it was that they would use their position to look after their own. If you ask me, that's a Labour trait. The Tory front bench is a little like Arnie -- they've got enough money that they don't need to line their pockets.

This article falls into Brown's trap which is designed to encourage disagreement in the Tory Party. I have every confidence that a Tory Government will curtail/mitigate the tax hits on the higher earners when they are in a realistic position to do so. This is simply because the proposed tax increases are tax inefficient and would encourage migration of key players. However I do not see any mileage in making it a priority at this stage which would have adverse electoraral consequences for the Tories.

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