David Blackburn

A morning of to-and-fro

A morning of to-and-fro
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Who’s in the ascendant this morning? As Pete noted earlier, David Cameron’s barnstorming morning stalled on the Today programme when pressed to cost his National Insurance tax cut. The government went to it press conference scenting blood – understandably vague Tory tax pledges can be easily represented as indicative of general incoherence. Mandelson was in political warlord mode, flanked by Liam Byrne and Alistair Darling, his unlikely musclemen.

But they blew it. First, Byrne and Mandelson asserted, with absolute certainty, that the Tories will raise VAT. Opaque pledges cannot be successfully criticised by baseless soothsayings. Alistair Darling then compounded the error by suggesting that the Tories were too incompetent to cost tax pledges but sufficiently artful to con leading businessmen. That is absurd. Already, two of the letter writers have rejected the suggestion they’ve been duped, and maintain the incontestable point that a NI cut would encourage growth and employment - yesterday, Darling admitted that the NI rise would hit jobs - and the recovery by extension. Ian Cheshire, of Kingfishers, said:

"It's a little patronising to say we've been deceived, this is not a political point, it is a business issue."

After a momentary wobble, the advantage is with Cameron and the National Insurance cut.