Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Labour must call election before 6th April 2010

Following the announcement yesterday that the government will tax anybody earning over £150,000 at a rate of 50%, I have been reviewing their manifesto from 2005. It explicitly states towards the bottom of page 16:

"We will not raise the basic or top rates of income tax in the next Parliament."

There are no caveats or hedging. This is not open to interpretation of what the top rate of income tax means like Labour tried to argue when they abandoned their pledge to hold a referendum on the European Constitution.

If Labour go to the country before 6th April 2010 (when it will come into effect) with this tax change in their manifesto, and they win, then they can have a fresh mandate to make this change. Otherwise this is a blatant reneging on a major plank of their manifesto and there is no reason to ever believe anything else that they put in a future manifesto.

This is a point that the opposition parties should hammer home again and again.


Costigan Quist said...

This is only true if Labour believe it will seriously harm them. Parties generally meet most of their manifesto pledges but never achieve all of them.

I don't think Labour will see this issue as serious enough to persuade Labour to go to the polls early, were other factors pointing to a May or June general election.

Stephen Glenn said...

Although you have to mention it is a good point. It was one of their hedline proposals as a rebuttal to the Tories that they would increase taxes. Of course wasn't the scrapping of the 10p rate a reversal of 2001-5 policy therefore this pledge has already been broken hence the who brouhaha they went through to straighten that one out.

Costigan I think they do think that this appearance of being against tax rises ahs been important to them for so long since 1997 even. Though this is now just another nail in the coffin.

Mark Thompson said...

You are of course correct in your interpretation of what they may do. I was not posting out of any expectation that Labour will actually do what I say even though it would be morally correct to do so. It was more a lament that they can so blatantly break a manifesto pledge.

I disagree, with respect to this issue, with the way you have phrased "Parties generally meet most of their manifesto pledges but never achieve all of them.". This was not an aim, or something to try and achieve (like say halving child poverty which is always going to be challenging and hard to do), it was a clear commitment that they are (or should be) fully in control of.

We should not allow them to forget about this. If they do go beyond 6th April 2010 then the breaking of this commitment should form a part of our campaign against them. How can you believe what they say in their next manifesto when they have broken this pledge?

Mark Thompson said...

I was responding to Costigan by the way!

Stephen - well remembered. Your point about how it was such an important part of their campaign just underlines my point.

The change to the 10p rate was also a broken pledge - you are correct about that although it was more blurred because they were arguing that they were trying to simplify the system and did try to redress the balance (albeit under severe pressure from their own backbenchers) but were only partially successful.

This 50p rate change is an unequivocal broken promise.