Alex Massie

What if the Lib Dems are right?

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James is right to say that the Lib Dems' commitment to increase the tax-free personal allowance to £10,000 trumps any obvious campaigning soundbite the Tories can offer. Isn't that a problem? Or, to put it another way, what if the Liberal Democrats are right?

On balance, I think they are. Whatever one thinks of the inheritance tax brouhaha or the 50p rate for the super-wealthy and no matter how counter-productive one thinks those notions may be, the fact remains that Tory policy, in the case of the former, and Tory preferences, in the case of the latter, impact a tiny number of people. Important people, in some cases, given their wealth-generating potential, but not many people no matter how you slice it.

Sure, paying for this Lib Dem policy is a matter of some importance (though I note that frequent commenter Thomas Bynre has outlined the way he would do it here) but as both a philosophical and political matter cutting taxes for the low-paid seems a better, healthier, policy than much of what one has seen, so far, from George Osborne.

The Tories are very good at telling us how miserable and broken everything is; rather less good at spelling out a positive agenda. The fact that something is endorsed by the Lib Dems does not actually mean it's a rubbish proposal. Simplifying the tax code is important, but so too is helping low-paid workers. And sometimes policies that can be explained in appealingly simple fashion are actually good ideas.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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