MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: The last thing we need is a new wave of taxes

MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: The last thing we need is a new wave of taxes to squash enterprise

Suddenly, it seems that the magic money tree has ceased to bear fruit. 

The Government have let it be known, through untraceable leaks, that the reform of social care is so expensive that they are going to have to raise taxes, a lot, especially National Insurance, which they specifically promised not to do. How very unwise.

We learn, through the same sneaky channels, that the supposed promise of a triple lock on pensions is also to be blatantly smashed. 

If the Tory Party lost substantial support in that quarter, it could find itself in difficulties, despite its vaunted new Blue Wall of former Labour seats

The manifesto pledge not to raise National Insurance is personally associated with the Prime Minister himself

This has the air of a softening-up exercise. Perhaps the eventual announcement will not be quite as bad as the initial rumour. 

That is how these things are done. It is called ‘management of expectations’. But it will still be very bad indeed.

This sort of behaviour is extremely dangerous politically. The manifesto pledge not to raise National Insurance is personally associated with the Prime Minister himself. 

It featured in a section entitled ‘Boris Johnson’s Guarantee’, and began with the words ‘I guarantee…’ And it left no room for wriggling. It ran: ‘We will not raise the rate of VAT, income tax or National Insurance.’

Then the manifesto declared ‘the “triple lock” we introduced has meant that those who have worked hard for decades can be confident that the state will be there to support them when they need it. 

We will keep the triple lock’. Once again, even the trickiest lawyer or spin doctor could not argue his way out of that.

The triple lock itself was the fruit of long campaigning by pensioners, who rightly argued that this country’s state provision for retired people was among the worst in the advanced world. 

The triple lock appeared to offer a promise of improvement and a certain security. 

Ministers would also be wise to remember that pensioners vote in very large numbers, or have done up till now. 

If the Tory Party lost substantial support in that quarter, it could find itself in difficulties, despite its vaunted new Blue Wall of former Labour seats.

As the Liberal Democrats discovered when they broke their pledge to oppose any increase in university tuition fees, people remember such promises and are angered when they are broken.

Grave political damage can follow. Voters take revenge, and will refuse to believe promises from the same source in future.

There is never any guarantee that money shifted from one area, or taxes supposedly raised for a special purpose, will ever find their way to that target. 

We may be sure that a very large number of Tory MPs of all ranks are currently urging Boris Johnson to find some other way of funding social care

Rather the contrary. Such cash gets eaten up in the endless demand for more, from every direction. But the taxes and the squeezed pensions are real.

And as the country struggles to recover from the ravages of multiple lockdowns, the last thing we need is a new wave of taxes to squash enterprise and discourage work.

Yes, the Prime Minister has also pledged to fix social care, and quite rightly. We all agree this needs doing. 

But he did so in full knowledge of the other commitments he had made. 

Quite understandably a heavyweight, high-level revolt against the tax and pension plan has erupted in the parliamentary Conservative Party. 

We may be sure that a very large number of Tory MPs of all ranks are currently urging Boris Johnson to find some other way of funding social care. 

The Mail on Sunday believes they are right to protest and that Boris Johnson should remember his own supporters and pay heed to these protests. 

Promises count and should be kept.

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