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Matt Sinclair of The TaxPayers’ Alliance welcomes a Labour MP’s call for lower taxes and lower spending.

First Alan Milburn argued that the number of civil servants should be
cut by a quarter; a measure which could save billions that might then
be returned to taxpayers’ pockets.  Today in The Telegraph Denis
MacShane
tells us that the answer to Gordon Brown’s problems is
“obvious: cut taxes and spending”.

Former ministers are coming out of the woodwork to acknowledge what
ordinary people have long understood: government wastes a lot of money
and ending that waste could make room for tax cuts.  MacShane says that
he does not “know of a single minister who privately does not despair
at the waste of money on pointless projects, publications, or legions
of press officers that add no value.”

TaxPayers’ Alliance polling (PPT) shows that two thirds of the public
think that the Government wastes more than one pound in every six that
it spends.  Fifty-three per cent think that it wastes more than one in
every five pounds of government spending.  MacShane and Milburn confirm
that Ministers, as well as ordinary people and the TaxPayers’ Alliance,
think that if the Government did things more efficiently tax cuts could
be delivered.

While it is encouraging that the Conservative and Liberal Democrat
leaders have suggested they might try to find some savings they still
cling to the Government’s spending plans.  MacShane’s comments show
that the conspiratorial consensus between the three main parties over
the medium term path of public spending plans is not based on any real
consensus that the waste isn’t there.  If the parties were willing to
be bold they know that it is possible to deliver better value for
taxpayers.

Politicians are so scared of being accused of plotting “cuts” that they
won’t give hard pressed taxpayers a break.  All we get are clumsy
revenue neutral changes.  Ironically, at the same time as spending and
taxes rocket many local services really are being cut and charges
increased, as the TaxPayers’ Alliance demonstrated in our report The
Great British TaxPayer Rip-Off
(PDF).  The bottomless demand for
resources to try and cover up the failures of unreformed public
services is resulting in higher taxes and charges and service cuts.

The Conservatives should not renew their pledge to match Labour
spending plans.  Doing so would betray the interests of taxpayers who
have been let down by Labour’s splurging.  It would also not be
politically astute either.  At last year’s Conservative party
conference the potential of tax cuts to transform the political
landscape was clearly demonstrated.  By mirroring the Government’s
fiscal plans the Conservatives leave open an opportunity for the Labour
party to stage a fightback in the polls by offering to leave taxpayers,
suffering in an economic crisis, with a little more money in their
pocket.

Denis MacShane is right – the tax burden needs to come down.  Taxpayers
deserve a break and the public services have enjoyed more than enough
largesse.

16 comments for: Matthew Sinclair: The years of tax and spend are over

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