David Laws penned his thoughts about the Budget in the Telegraph yesterday, under the headline “Budget 2012: Not so much a gamble, more a grand strategy”
Despite its scratchy origins, this was a strong Conservative-Lib Dem Budget, reminiscent of the earliest days of the Coalition at its best. It was radical and combined both enterprise and fairness. It did not duck difficult decisions or end up with lowest common denominator compromises. At times, the run-up may have looked like Coalition politics at their worst. I would argue that what resulted was Coalition policy-making at its best.
The Liberal Democrats challenged the Government to go further and faster in cutting taxes for working families. The largest ever increase in the personal allowance delighted our MPs, and will give real help to more than 20 million taxpayers. And the £10,000 allowance is likely to be delivered a year early – a big achievement for Mr Clegg.
But this was an enterprise Budget, too. From the Conservative side of the Coalition came much lower rates of corporation tax, with a new long-term target of 20 per cent. The decision to reduce the 50 per cent top rate will send a positive message around the world that Britain welcomes foreign investment, and at the same time the Lib Dems have contributed constructively to ensuring that the total tax contribution of rich people will be higher, not lower, than before. This is crucial to securing wider political support for the measures.
* Mary Reid is the Tuesday Editor on Lib Dem Voice.