Peter Hoskin

A framework for shelving tax cuts

A framework for shelving tax cuts
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So, the News of the World claims that the Tories are planning to shelve some of their tax-cutting proposals - including the inheritance tax cut and tax breaks for married couples - to help combat the fiscal crisis.  Guido suspects that the news came direct from the Blackberry of Andy Coulson, but the Tories have told Tim Montgomerie to "treat the story with a ton of salt".

Either way, I do - like Tim - have some sympathy for the idea that commitments will have to be sidelined to overcome Brown's debt mountain.  The longer those terrible deficits remain, the more future generations will be burdened by the Dear Leader's fiscal sabotage, and the more likely that potential investors will turn away from the UK.  Simply put: sacrifices will have to be made, and the tax cuts mentioned above are likely candidates for the chop.

But there's a framework that the Tories would do well to operate within.  To my mind, cutting wasteful public spending should be prioritised ahead of dropping tax cuts.  The Tories should try first to implement tax cuts which would the help the least well off - e.g. incentivising work by raising thresholds.  And they shouldn't follow Brown's dubious lead by committing to political measures - such as the raised upper rate - which could actually damage revenues.

Whatever the Tories do, though, you just know Brown will bluster on about "Tory U-turns," as well as about "tax cuts for the few".  But that certainly shouldn't deter Cameron & Co. - after all, voters deserve to hear some truth about the public finances.  But it does mean that they need to highlight - clearly and decisively - just how bad their inheritance is set to be, and the measures necessary to tackle it.  That way lies public sympathy and - who knows? - maybe even some votes.