ConservativeHome has got hold of a PowerPoint presentation (a pdf of which is here) that is circulating amongst Conservative and other MPs. It is from the TaxPayers’ Alliance and builds on their weekend opinion poll. The central argument of the presentation is that the public has an appetite for lower taxation and it presents some of the most potent arguments for capitalising on that appetite.
The presentation suggests that the Tories are behind the curve on tax. In the 1990s the public were willing to buy Labour’s argument that Britain’s public services needed a step increase in funding. The public have now paid for those spending increases but not witnessed sufficient improvements and is now ready for tax relief. The TPA suggests that the Tories have not caught up with this public mood. Focus group research by the TPA points to a risk that voters might see Project Cameron as an attempt to ‘Blair-ise’ the Tories:
"Just a PR man… full of spin… Trying to put a new image on the party… He’s following the same game plan as Blair… He says what he thinks we want to hear… He never comes out with policies… He’s turning them into New Labour, the way New Labour did… They’re all the same… Things need radically changing but they won’t do it…"
George Osborne’s weekend hint of an abolition of stamp duty on shares has been welcomed in the right-wing press (click on graphic to read The Daily Express’ welcome) but has, this morning, brought a putdown from Gordon Brown. In this morning’s FT the Chancellor wrote:
"No political party will be trusted if it promises stability in one breath and unfunded tax cuts in the next. To make unfunded promises, to play fast and loose with stability (indeed to play politics with stability) is a return to the bad old days – something I will never do and the British people will not accept."
Meanwhile former Chancellor Norman Lamont – David Cameron’s former boss – has urged the Tory leader to adopt a more balanced approach and keep the Conservative base on-side. Speaking to ePolitix Lord Lamont warned: "We must not drift into a situation where there are more and more abstentions and that is the option open to core voters." The ‘floating non-voters’, identified by Norman Tebbit and Stephan Shakespeare, also need to be energised by a balance of core and breadth messages.