Tuesday, September 20, 2011

LibDems Non-Evidence Based Tax Policy

If there's one thing LibDems like to think of themselves it is that they are the most rational and open minded of the 3 main parties. Drawing up evidence based policy, not overly ideological but eminently pragmatic.

Tim Farron
Swivel eyed ambition: The next leader of the LibDems

offering a strategy for another 90 years of opposition
Well, that self belief may be justified in some areas of policy but not when it comes to the 50p tax rate. Here, left wing ideology reigns supreme. Even their more centrist leader, Nick Clegg is now threatening the coalition if the Tories insist on reforming the top tax rate. And this week, party president, Tim Farron, who fancies himself to replace Nick Clegg as leader and never misses an opportunity to appeal to the seemingly dominant left of the party, says the idea of scrapping the tax is "morally repugnant" and "economically witless". All this despite the fact a review of the tax is soon to report on its effectiveness and many, lets be honest, much more economically literate people, cast doubts on how much the tax raises and express concern about how it is probably costing Britain taxes and jobs. Even Channel 4's FactCheck, hardly a renowned right wing, free-market media outlet, expresses doubts.

But, instead of waiting for the review to report and basing their policy on evidence, it seems the LibDems would rather pander to the left and indulge in potentially popular rich bashing. God knows they need to improve their popularity but I can't help thinking they'd gain more credibility in the long term by pursuing policies that will help encourage growth and actually increase tax revenue. Showing leadership is what being in power is about.

At the same time as he panders to misplaced populist sentiment, Farron accuses the Tories for doing just that after the Riots. If there's one person that reflects what needs to change with the LibDems it's Farron. They can't outflank Red Ed's Labour on the Left. They need to show they are a grown up party with a genuine liberal economic and social outlook. I think Clegg understands this, but he needs to slap down the likes of Farron and other reform blockers on the left. If he does, his party can emerge transformed in 2015 with a different make up of supporters, but with a lot more credibility.

Tim Farron today denied he has "any ambition" to be LibDem leader. Apparently he would refuse the position if he was offered it. Of course he wouldn't ever be offered the job, what with the Liberal Democrats be democratic 'an all. He'd have to be elected. But I'm sure that's just me being pedantic.

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