By Tim Montgomerie
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On Sunday and yesterday 1,922 Tory members took part in our pre-Budget survey.
Two-thirds of Tory members support abolishing the 50p rate. I found less support among Tory MPs yesterday. Most agreed that the 50p rate was economically dangerous but they worried about the symbolism of abolishing it when so many families are struggling to make ends meet.
- 65% of the 1,922 respondents agreed with the statement that "The 50p tax rate is hurting the economic recovery and if George Osborne abolishes it he will help job creation and that's what will matter at the next election"
- 35% agreed with the statement that "If George Osborne cuts the 50p tax rate he will reinforce the idea that the Conservatives care most about rich people".
If 50p is to be scrapped there was massive support for scrapping it properly and quickly. In the event of abolition 82% said it should be cut immediately to 40p and not in stages via 45p. 16% disagreed.
But if Tory members agreed with the abolition of the 50p tax rate it was not their priority. Asked to rate various tax cut options on a scale of zero to ten where zero equalled lowest possible priority and ten equalled the top priority members said lower petrol tax should be George Osborne's top concern:
- Cutting petrol tax: 7.54
- Raising the income tax threshold: 7.01
- Cutting corporation tax: 6.80
- Freezing council tax: 6.40
- Raising 40p tax threshold: 6.34
- Cutting 50p rate: 6.24
- Lower NI contributions: 5.90
- Introducing a marriage tax break: 5.83
- Cut in basic rate of income tax: 5.38
- Cutting VAT: 4.07
- Lower taxes on air travel: 3.88
- Less alcohol duties: 2.11
- Less tax on tobacco: 1.15
It is interesting that Tory members are slightly more worried about the 40p issue than the 50p issue. As one Tory MP said to me yesterday: 40p taxpayers are a bigger slice of the active electorate than they are of the population. The Mail goes big today in calling on George Osborne to address the issue of 40p taxpayers and child benefit.
Finally on tax (I'll publish the survey's other results in due course) you largely rejected property taxes but do appear to be open to the idea of higher council tax bands…
- By 64% to 32% Tory members agree that "People who live in £2 million homes should pay more council tax than people who live in £500,000 homes";
- By 63% to 22% Tory members agree that "A tax on £2 million homes is more likely to reconnect Cameron to Northern voters than support for gay marriage";
- Overall, however, by 66% to 29% they agree that "There are enough taxes on property and there shouldn't be any more"