Think back to George Osborne’s budget. Do you remember how often he used the word fair? Do you remember how often he used the word progressive? More importantly do you remember how he added an additional £2 billion to the child tax credit to make sure all those graphs looked the way he wanted?
I wonder if Mr Osborne realises how much of an intellectual concession this is. The terms ‘progressive’ and ‘fair’ are becoming increasingly common in our political vernacular. This wouldn’t be a problem if the words true meanings hadn’t been distorted out of all recognition. For progressive, read statist. For fair, read redistribution.
The corpse of Brownism still haunts the political debate. The 50p tax rate will stay, not because of any tangible benefit it brings, but because of ‘fairness’. Taxes will have to rise to plug the deficit, not cut to ensure growth and greater tax takes in time. Free school milk is to remain despite having no discernable health benefits because of the long shadow that Thatcher has cast over the Conservative party.
Everywhere we look we are told about the terrible cuts to come. These cuts, as we have already outlined on this blog, are practically non-existent. Public spending continues to rise, year on year. What’s more worrying is that no intellectual case is being put forward that cuts are a good thing in and of themselves. The idea that ever higher public spending is an unquestionably good thing is rarely even challenged.
I would like to see the government send a clear message; a message that shatters assumptions. I would cut the top rate of income tax, not to 40%, but to 35%, and I would also lower the bottom rate to 17.5% so it remains half the top rate. This would send the message that the fruits of your labour are yours to keep. It would strike a blow to the politics of class warfare and envy. It would be a rallying cry for economic liberalism, and it would show that the coalition government is not bound by the intellectual chains of the left.
Well, we can all dream, can’t we?