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.