Sunday, September 07, 2008

Tax cuts galore!

And so we come full circle (almost), with a call for tax cuts for the working middle classes. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to tax cuts per se, and firmly believe that government should not be spending money where individual choice might be more effective.

However, promising tax cuts implies that you have a pretty good idea as to the role of government. I'm yet to be entirely convinced that we really do. The question of what government is for is one that has been left hanging amidst the debate over social versus economic liberalism, possibly because it would be potentially messy and divisive.

Such a debate is all the messier for the fact that we tend to see things in shades of grey, rather then the black and white of our primary opponents. Labour strongly believe that government can and should do things for you because it's big - the dinosaur theory of government. Our Conservative f(r)iends believe that government can't and shouldn't do things for you because it's too incompetent to be trusted - the small furry mammal theory. We tend to be more equivical about things.

Unfortunately, we tend to sound rather wishy-washy when addressing such issues instead of saying, "We don't give a f**k who delivers services, as long as they're the best we can afford and there is democratic accountability.". I deeply suspect that such a view reflects the attitude of a large swathe of voters.

There are a number of big ticket items which, in the short term, would allow a Liberal Democrat government to reduce the burden of taxation on what Americans like to call 'hard-working families'. However, the secret to gaining long term credibility is to make tax cuts that last. Voters now routinely expect tax cuts or very low increases in the year before an election, and are entirely cynical about the motivation for politicians in doing so. If we want to change the political culture, we need to overcome that cynicism.

So, the promise of tax cuts is easy and cheap to make. Without a credible means of delivery though, it risks engendering further cynicism amomgst voters. I hope that you know what you're doing, Nick...

1 comment:

Jennie said...

I HATE that term "hard-working families". What about childless couples, and gay people, and widows, and teenage burger flippers? Their work's not good enough, isn't it?

I've noticed that phrase creeping into Our Glorious Leader's lexicon recently, and I do wish he'd stop. It makes me switch off from whatever it is he's saying the second I hear it. It pushes the red button marked "thar she blows".