It is hard to understand why the Liberal Democrats seem to think bringing forward the 2015 Budget from March to February would stop George Osborne from using it to try to bribe gullible or selfish voters with tax giveaways.
The Conservatives habitually try to buy votes with measures that appear generous at the time, only to put the squeeze on the electorate in some new way after securing an election victory.
Look at Nigel Lawson’s announcement that the base rate of Income Tax would drop from 29 per cent to 27 per cent in 1987. The Tories won a landslide and then imposed the Poll Tax on us all. It was a disaster for the UK’s lowest-paid.
According to the BBC, the Tories are saying a “flashy pre-election Budget” would “weaken the credibility of their central message of economic revival and fiscal rectitude”.
Vox Political readers will probably agree that talk about “fiscal rectitude” is more likely to come from the rectUM, where Tories are concerned.
The Liberal Democrats don’t believe a word of it – and after more than four years in coalition with the Conservatives, they should know!
The BBC report claims that Tory backbenchers want to increase the level of income a person earns before they start paying the 40 per cent rate of income tax, or raise the threshold for employees’ national insurance by more than inflation, to lure lower-paid people into thinking the Conservatives have had a change of heart and the brutality inflicted on the poor since May 2010 is over. That would be a foolish notion!
The Lib Dems know they would not be able to stop the Tories doing this. But a February budget would allow around six weeks between the Budget statement and the start of the general election campaign, in which they would be able to separate themselves from the Tories and expose the motivation behind any faux generosity in the Chancellor’s speech.
Of course, some Lib Dems have been discussing the collapse of the Coalition before the Budget is announced. This would make the Conservatives a minority government and it seems unlikely that they would be able to pass their Budget if the Liberal Democrats did not support it.
Let’s hope that happens. The Affordable Housing Bill would be a good opportunity to ram in the wedge.
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