James Forsyth

The Tories should step around the 50p tax trap

The Tories should step around the 50p tax trap
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The 50p rate is a political measure not a fiscal one. In government terms it will raise peanuts. It is designed to stoke up Labour’s base and to split the Tories.

Brown will be delighting at the bind it has put the Tories in. If they oppose it, Labour will try and paint them as friends of the rich etc. But if they accept it, they’ll be letting Labour get away with an attack on wealth creation that will leave the country worse off.

On 45p, the Tories have neither endorsed nor rejected the proposal but instead tried to walk around the trap. It is tempting to say they should do the same on 50p. But I actually think there’s a case for the Tories just laughing at this measure and pointing out how deeply cynical and political it is. They should say that it says everything about Brown that with the public finances in free-fall, he’s still obsessed with coming up with petty measures designed to trap his opponents and that their main focus is on stopping Brown’s increase in the tax on jobs. If pressed—as they will be—they should say they will come up with the tax rate on the super-rich that will raise the most revenue.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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