There was a time when Vince Cable held the Liberal Democrats in thrall. Those days may come again, but for the moment (until this morning at any rate) David Laws is the new Gladstone. In yet another example of Laws’ value to the right side of the coalition, he hints that he opposes Cable’s CGT measure. He told the Times:
“There are all sorts of possibilities and there are some ingenious thoughts in John Redwood’s letter. Even though I’m a Lib Dem and I think this issue has to be dealt with, we need to think all of those things through ... we’re not trying to be unfair to people.
“We believe there needs to be reform but we need to think really carefully about how we do that, to make sure that in correcting one unfairness we don’t create others. We are listening to the concerns people have and it’s right that we take the time to get this right.”
The endorsement of Redwood’s plan in the context of fairness is significant, as it conforms to the coalition’s avowed aims. One can only hope that Redwood's ideas are adopted. Surely few measures endanger recovery more than a tax on long-term saving and investment? With credit in stifled and housing exhorbitant, what option do many people have other than to liquidate assets? Punitive CGT on long-term investments wipes out a degree of wealth, security and independence among the middle classes, not the super-rich. Do that at your peril: we're still a nation of shopkeepers.