Sunday, 29 August 2010

Danny Alexander is right

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liberal Democrat Danny Alexander, has clearly implied that higher earners have little prospect of a Reagan/Bush style tax handout before the coalition agreement runs out. There will no doubt be some chuntering from the Thatcherite wing of the Conservative party. They should remember the rhetoric of Osborne and Cameron in opposition, continued into government, that Labour did not "mend the roof when the sun was shining". What would have been right for Labour is also right for the coalition. (Mind you, I don't remember any Conservatives endorsing the Liberal Democrat policy at the 1997 general election of raising the standard rate of income tax by 1p in the pound.)

The danger to the coalition comes not from the Liberal Democrat side, as Labour seems to believe. The leaders signed up to the agreement, the party as a whole overwhelmingly endorsed it, and the parliamentary party will stick to it. Hard as it may be for the opposition to understand, we believe that binding agreements are just that.

No, the more likely outcome is that the new intake of Conservatives, together with some of the old "dries" who should know better, will suffer the same delusion as New Labour: that the laws of history and economics have been suspended simply because they have been elected. Alexander is right to slap down any possible rebellion now.

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