Yesterday I blogged about Treasury Chief Secretary Liam Byrne's statement that Labour would not introduce any new tax rises if re-elected.

Notwithstanding the fact that the credibility of that assertion is seriously questionable, Polly Toynbee is less than enamoured of the idea, as she writes in this morning's Guardian:

"The budget is 10 days away and yet already the chief secretary, Liam Byrne, appears to have ruled out any new tax rises to deal with the deficit. That is a deeply alarming prospect – and as a political stand, a blunder. If the election squeezes out any honesty about the cuts to come soon, then voters need to know the choices. The Institute for Fiscal Studies warns the likely cuts will wipe out virtually all the extra spending of the Labour era – an unimaginable blow. Unless taxes rise to mitigate that disaster. Whether or not Byrne really meant it, why was he pretending tax rises were off the agenda?"

"The chancellor should be listening to the group of 80 MPs and economists calling for another fiscal stimulus to keep the economy afloat: Britain is one of only two G20 countries withdrawing the stimulus this year. To invest in housing, transport and clean energy with growth and jobs is the Rooseveltian way out of recession and debt. The cabinet debates how to use a windfall from the bank bonus tax and lower than expected unemployment. With an abyss gaping below, of course it must be put back into investment. And this is no time to rule out tax rises."

Jonathan Isaby

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