One paragraph stood out from Neil’s piece:
"The first priority [of a Conservative government] must be to reduce unemployment. Cutting employers’ National Insurance is probably the most effective way to get it down. In the new era, cutting the tax on jobs should be a priority over any other reduction in tax – including inheritance tax."
It would be politically difficult to delay the inheritance tax promise but it certainly isn’t the tax cut most likely to stimulate our sick economy. I’m told delaying the IHT change would save about £1.5bn. Not enough to justify the distrust that would be associated with abandoning/ delaying a commitment that saved our political bacon in the autumn of 2007.
At some point, however, it would be helpful if the Conservatives made it clear that the sacrifices that are going to be required of others (particularly public sector workers) will be shared by us. This sharing should be personal and political:
- Personal: Politicians abandoning, for example, a portion of their special pension position. Mark Field MP has advocated this.
- Political: Cameron might admit that things he wanted to do are no longer affordable. The IHT cut is too tricky but he might look at things like his National Community Service idea and certain environmental goals.
The Tories are certainly going to have to get much, much, much, much, much tougher on public spending. There is no way that Britain’s horrendous fiscal position is going to be remedied by the modest difference between our spending plans and Labour’s. Is there a secret plan to raise taxes dramatically? The post-election Domesday Book may give the Conservatives an excuse to be tougher but it would be more honest to level with voters now.