Peter Hoskin

Balls’s election strategy is a hostage to Osborne’s pen

Balls's election strategy is a hostage to Osborne's pen
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Make a note, CoffeeHousers: Labour won’t be fighting a class war against the Tories, after all.  That’s what Ed Balls tells us in this morning’s Times – so it must be true, mustn’t it?  Erm, well, perhaps not.  This is how the Schools Secretary continues:

“‘David Cameron’s and George Osborne’s vulnerability is not their schools or their background but that they are prioritising tax cuts for the richest estates ahead of spending on the key public services,’ he said. ‘They have designed an inheritance tax policy which costs billions but which won’t benefit a single lower or middle-income family in Britain but will benefit themselves and a tiny percentage of other individuals.’”

Which sure looks like class war to me.  Maybe not the kind of class war which makes ad hominem, “Eton playing field” attacks on Cameron ‘n’ Osborne.  But certainly the kind which paints the Tories as a party for and of the privileged few.

Semantics aside, I’ve got a “What if...?” question for you to ponder as the year comes to a close: what if the Tories formally downgraded their IHT pledge?  Where would that leave Labour’s attacks?  I’m not saying that the Tories should decide policy based on how it could stymie their opponent’s spin operation – and they'd have to consider how it would play with their own voters.  But it does seem strange that Ball’s entire election strategy is based on something that George Osborne could change with a flick of his pen.  Especially as the fiscal climate gives the Shadow Chancellor perfect cover to do so.