Monday, 23 March 2009

Tories In Retreat Over 'Tax Wars'

Local Conservatives have got themselves hot under the collar at the tactics journalists will go to to tell a story.

The issue surrounds ongoing questions over whether or not the Conservative party is a 'tax-cutting' party. It follows the ambivalent description from shadow Chancellor George Osborne MP that a future Conservative government would "share the proceeds of growth". How this applies in the current recession is unknown.

This week Mr Osborne refused to oppose a government proposal to increase income tax on earnings above £150,000 pa with the addition of a new top-end 45p tax band.

Apparently Wokingham MP John Redwood was tapped up to be the lone voice of opposition to a Labour plan to raise income tax. He explains that the tax rise could delay economic recovery, although he neglects to address questions of how the currently ballooning deficit can be kept under control.

RBMW council leader, David Burbage, is less detailed but more explicit about the threat to his party from such a line of questioning.

Normally an internal debate on party policy wouldn't be much to comment about, but this row has spilled over into the MSM as journalists note the massive divide between 'ordinary' Conservative party members and their 'leaders'.

The favorite of the tory faithful, Iain Dale, cites Boris Johnson, who spoke out on this national issue (despite no longer being a national figure). Dale also highlights a corruscating attack against David Cameron's right-hand man by the party's membership site.

And rumble on the story has...

Osborne's deputy, shadow Business spokesman Ken Clarke MP, has been forced to 'clarify' his statement during a TV interview that cutting inheritance tax is an "aspiration" and "not a high priority".

Conservative party bosses moved quickly to deny they face a 'tough choice' to reject tax cuts in favour of stabilising public finances, but nobody is convinced.

In a rare show of unity The Times, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail all agree that the Conservatives are in disarray over the issue.

Oranjepan says:
These senior Tories protest too much for there to be no truth to reports of internal divisions at the very top of the party - with a general election looming the public needs to be clear about the choices on offer and whether a party is likely to keep or renege its' promises.

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Update: Sky News' Joey Jones writes on Adam Boulton's blog (another renowned Reading expat) that a lack of clarity cannot help tory election hopes.

Mark Reckons Ken Clarke is a loose cannon.

Cllr Willis gives his opinion of Conservative tax policy and only muddies the water further.

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