‘It’s fair to give wealthiest more money back – Truss’. That’s the headline on a BBC News story following Liz Truss’ interview with Laura Kuenssberg today, where she was asked about the merits of cutting National Insurance.
Don’t worry if you missed the headline though. You’ll get plenty more chances to see it when Labour MPs repeat it over and over again, offering it as proof that the Tories are the party of the rich, a tag that Conservative leaders have sought to drop for the last two decades.
So striking is the prospect of a would-be Tory leader clearly defending a policy that benefits the rich more than the poor, it may be tempting for some to see that comment as a ‘gaffe’. It’s not, though. It’s a considered statement of intent, and possibly the most important one of the whole long leadership saga.
Truss’ central argument is that tax is a drag on growth. Cutting tax spurs growth – because it leaves people with more of their own money, which they spend and invest, leading to more economic activity and a general increase in prosperity. Everyone gets better off, even if their gains aren’t of similar size. A rising tide lifts all boats, if you like – and that is more important than whether some boats are bigger than others.
The key line from Truss is here:
‘To look at everything through the lens of redistribution I believe is wrong because what I’m about is about growing the economy and growing the economy benefits everybody.‘
This isn’t the time or place for a discussion of the economic arguments at play here. What’s more immediately interesting is the politics of that growth-first position.