Now, George Osborne’s remarks that the 45p rate will be “difficult to avoid” have caused a storm. Tim Montgomerie has declared that “George Osborne needs to get a grip” and warned, “Tax rises must be the last resort, not, as it appears, the first resort.” I agree with the second of Tim’s statements but actually think Osborne's political judgement is right on the 45p rate.
If Osborne committed the Tories to a repeal of the 45p rate, he would be just where Labour want him: they would insist that he explain what would be cut to pay for this. Now, I know that this is a daft argument—less than £1.6 billion doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in public spending terms—but it is potentially politically potent. Far better, for the Tories to under promise and over deliver on this.