It’s 45p day in Westminster, and Ed Balls is trying to make the most of the end of a 50p rate his own party only imposed for a month or so before it left government. The story hasn’t made it to the front pages, aside from the Mirror getting cross about Nick Clegg going on holiday with millionaires in a ski resort, and the Tories are also out on the attack over other changes which affect many more taxpayers than that totemic top tax rate.
They’ve produced this series of posters reminding voters of the good tax bits of the Budget.
This is important: one of the biggest gripes of even loyal Tory backbenchers and ministers is that the government is achieving radical reforms, but isn’t all that good at selling them. The Conservatives have spent the past fortnight on the offensive on tax and benefits, rather than waiting for the Opposition to set the terms of the debate, and these posters are the next step in this campaign.
But contrast this with the way the Liberal Democrats are behaving at the moment. They have been very keen to claim the rise in the personal allowance for income tax as their own, yet today they are busy moping about the 50p rate. Party president Tim Farron told Stephen Tall that ‘cutting the top rate was a stupid thing to do. It probably raised up to £3bn a year’ and that his party should pledge to restore the rate. Similarly, the Lib Dems have found it difficult to work out where on earth they should stand in the welfare culture wars that have raged over the past two weeks. The Tories are showing them the way on message discipline, which must be a novel sensation.
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