As coalition rows go, today’s ‘spat’ over who is most supportive of aspirational voters really is the more boring for a while. David Cameron has been talking about Britain’s ‘tax moment’ (hopefully with an accompanying PPB with Burt Bacharach as the soundtrack), but Danny Alexander wants to pick a fight with his Coalition colleague. Last night the Chief Secretary to the Treasury released analysis saying the Coalition’s decision to increase the personal tax allowance has benefitted more than 8 million households to the tune of £1,330, and claiming credit for the Lib Dems. This was a deliberate act of sabotage ahead of the Prime Minister’s own ‘tax moment’.
And today, Alexander has puffed the bellows of what Lib Dems are ostentatiously calling a ‘developing row’ by accusing Cameron of being an ‘enemy of aspiration’, saying:
‘We have had to battle every inch of the way to deliver this huge tax cut for the many. If David Cameron wants to see an enemy of aspiration, he should hold a mirror up to his own party. He would see a party that wants to cut public spending way beyond what is needed to balance the books, including on education, which is the key to unlocking the aspirations of future generations.
‘He would see a party that believes only working people should contribute to the next phase of deficit reduction, and whose instincts are to focus tax cuts on the best off. The Tories offer aspiration only for the richest, the Liberal Democrats are delivering opportunity for everyone.’
That Alexander, who gets on famously well with his Tory colleagues, is trying to pick a fight is rather amusing. It’s like the bit in How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days where Andie Anderson starts trying to behave in an unreasonable manner to persuade Benjamin Barry to dump her. This isn’t a ‘developing row’, it’s a row that has been developed, cultured, even, in a political petri dish. Most of the real rows in this coalition have been between members of the same party: Theresa May vs Michael Gove, Vince Cable vs Danny Alexander. Even the ones between Vince Cable and Theresa May, the two most pugnacious members of this government, have been reasonably well-organised.
Of course the reason the Lib Dems want to develop a row is that they really need to claim credit for those tax allowance increases, and funnily enough, the Tories want to do so too, because voters like them. And so you can expect to see Alexander and colleagues launching similarly unconvincing attacks in the next 100 days. Perhaps it will culminate in Tories and Lib Dems singing ‘you’re so vain, you probably think this tax cut is about you’, just like in the film…
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