LibLink: Mark Pack – I was wrong about the Budget

Writing over on his work blog, Lib Dem Voice’s Mark Pack withdraws one Budget prediction and offers us three others instead:

Cunning negotiating strategy or basic mistake? Whatever the view you have of the tax motion at Liberal Democrat conference and Stephen Williams’s speech moving it, my interpretation of it was wrong.

Far from signalling the determination of the party’s leadership to see the 50p tax rate remain, it was in fact a sideshow and the rate will go. A kind interpretation is that standing by the 50p rate so publicly was part of a negotiating strategy to extract greater concessions from the Tories on other tax changes. A less kind interpretation is that it was a mistake to put to party conference a motion supporting the 50p rate just before agreeing to drop it, even if in return for other changes…

The challenge for the Liberal Democrats is that promises about making the richest pay more by cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion do not sound new or credible. It has become a regular part of Budgets for the Chancellor to promise this. A new round of promises this week will need to have enough substance to make them sound more significant than just a repeat of the usual formalities.

Likewise, speeding up the moves towards a £10,000 allowance would be very popular, but of limited political gain for the Liberal Democrats as getting to £10,000 is in the Coalition Agreement already. Speeding up implementation would be good as it would bring more benefits, sooner. But it is a relatively small gain.

So what does Mark think will happen? Read his full post for the three replacement predictions.

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  • I hope you’re right with those predictions that appear on your work blog, Mark, because if we’ve given way on the 50p tax rate for just some promises about cracking down on tax avoidance then I despair. How is that even a concession? Cracking down on tax avoidance shouldn’t need us to give way on anything. I really hope we’ve got more for abandoning the 50p than I am reading and hearing about the in the media.

  • @Stuart – “Cracking down on tax avoidance shouldn’t need us to give way on anything.”

    I do so agree. There is no obvious tackling of tax avoidance – it still goes on and on and on! We all know people who are squirreling away money offshore, creating “dummy companies” in which to hide their assets, going into bankruptcy and showing up on Companies Register as having assets of Nil one day and starting a new company the next day with such low assets they are not taxable.

    Does the Government think that we, at the grass roots and the sharp end, are stupid? We all know where to look to find people who are being downright dishonest. The problem is – what can we actually do about it when the Government is clearly NOT cracking down on these tax avoiders!

    I despair too! No-one is listening!

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Mar '12 - 11:18am

    Mark Pack

    A less kind interpretation is that it was a mistake to put to party conference a motion supporting the 50p rate just before agreeing to drop it, even if in return for other changes

    My interpretation is that this was a deliberate insult to the Liberal Democrats intended to provoke us, with the end view being that either the coalition collapses or it carries on but the Liberal Democrat party outside Parliament collapses.

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