You have to say one thing for Labour. They still have an icy grip over journalists on their papers and in the BBC. During a very busy day yesterday my phone did not stop ringing from journalists acting as Labour’s poodles, wanting me to condemn the Tory leadership or to say things on top tax rates that they could use to condemn the Conservatives generally or create a “Tory split” story.
Sorry boys. That Labour game doesn’t work. This budget should be a time for strong and positive measures to get the UK out of the economic black hole this government has taken us into. It should not be about playing stupid political games and trying to paint the Tories into a corner. I want David Cameron to win the election, and I want an election as soon as possible. We cannot afford to go on like this. Clearly Number 10 has learnt nothing from the Mc Bride affair and think it is business as usual. The Chancellor has demeaned himself and the budget by seeking the 50p tax headlines and anti Tory story in the way Labour’s spinners did this week.
What is my view? That must be obvious from everything I have written over the years. I did advise Margaret Thatcher to both increase the amount of tax the rich paid, and increase the proportion of income tax paid by the rich when she was in government. Her excellent reforming Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, did so by cutting the top rate of tax from Labour’s penal 83% on earned income and 98% on savings income to 40%, a competitive international rate for those days. As a result of their lower rates the amount of tax paid by the rich rose, and rose as a proportion of the total.
If Labour were serious about getting more tax from the rich, instead of playing class war games, they might like to ask themselves what rate of income tax will maximise the number of rich people here, and the amount of business and investment they undertake. That should be the only important question at this time of national financial crisis. The UK’s tax rates cannot be settled in a vacuum. We need to become more successful as an international trading economy, and that means competitive tax rates on personal as well as company income and gains. Meanwhile for those Labour poodles still in doubt, I support the Conservative leadership against these juvenile Labour antics.