In a blistering attack on the last 14 years or so of Labour government, David Cameron has laid out some policies on the table in an interview with the Daily Express.
The first, which will please the Euro-sceptics, is a firm commitment that the UK will not join the Euro while (if) he is Prime Minister.
He has also made the firm commitment to amend the law of self-defence within the home. This will please many residents but will alarm some law enforcement experts.
But most of his political ire was directed at the ‘work-shy’. Those that milk the system and financially drag the ordinary tax-payer down via the tax system.
He said “Middle Britain has had a wretched time under Labour. This Government has taxed mortgages, marriages, pensions, petrol and travel and raised national insurance and the top rate of income tax. We cannot keep squeezing hard-working families,”
He has also said that all those on incapacity benefit will be checked to make sure their claim is justified. Whilst the jobless who claim would lose their benefits if they did not take up offers of work. He also said that housing benefit needed a massive overhaul.
Cameron also praised Thatcher and said that he wanted to cut taxes to generate growth just as she did in the 1980s.
All this talk about the work-shy supposes that there are sufficient jobs out there in the UK to soak up all those thrown off of incapacity benefit and jobseekers allowances. It was also a Tory initiative under Thatcher to put people on incapacity benefit where possible so as to massage the unemployment figures.
Let’s now look at the 1980s tax levels.
- In 1974 the income tax top rate was 83% for those earning over Â£20,000 per annum. When combined with a surcharge on ‘un-earned income’ this could then reach 98%. The base rate was 33%.
- After she came to power in 1979, Margaret Thatcher reduced the top rate of tax to 60% and the lower rate to 30%.
- In 1986 the base tax rate was cut further to 29%.
- The base tax rate was again cut in 1987 to 27%.
- In 1988 it was cut down to 25%.
But this time Cameron is starting out with 50%, 40% and 20% tax levels (and an obscure 10% savings rate tax for a very few people who qualify). It also took Thatcher many years and hard choices to achieve those cuts and, when he eventually gets to investigate the books, Cameron may find that he is starting off in a much worse economic position than she did at the beginning of the 1980s. Far from tax cuts we may end up with a VAT rise to 20%.
Unless the UK economy turns around now, the exchequer’s tax take will continue to drop. This means pain for everyone. The fewer who pay will have to pay more and the increasing numbers that rely on the state will continue to soak it up. Unless that is Cameron is prepared to really take the bull by the horns and become another love ‘em or hate ‘em figure, just like Maggie.