Monday, November 07, 2005

Trust Me: I'm A Politician

Sir John Major doesn't like it:

"I don't think David Davis is right to put a specific figure [on tax] because there are too many intangibles. You should set a general direction so that people understand where we are coming from, where we are going to and why we are heading in that direction and what the difficulties we are likely to encounter will be."

And David Cameron is now going so far as to say the whole thing shows why he's the better man, despite his breathtaking lack of experience:

"I think the real answer to the experience question is do you know what needs to be done? Have you learned the lessons from the last eight years? And if the answer to that question is “yes” that's much more important than the length of experience you have.

David Davis has been in Parliament for a very long time but I think he has got the judgements about tax wrong - and I have been in parliament for a short length of time but I think I have got the judgements about tax right. I think it is those judgements that are far more important than the length of time you have been in parliament."

That's what you think, is it Dave? Based presumably on all that experience.

The fact is both Sir J and DC have missed the point.

What DD has recognised a fundamental, and- for politicians- dismal truth: we can't actually trust their judgements about tax, particularly the overall tax burden. Fine words about what they may think are no longer enough: we need another Golden Rule to get them back on the straight and narrow.

Now, I'm sure we don't need to rehearse all the arguments again, but the Reform Growth Rule is eminently moderate and entirely workable. Among other things, it already deals with the cyclical deficit issue which so excites the Grauniad and FT this morning (maybe they should take the trouble to read up on it).

And we need to get real. By all means draw a discreet veil over Sir John's own tax raising exploits, and let's not question Dave's promise to "share the proceeds of growth". They are both honourable men with the very best of intentions.

But we live in a naughty old world, with good deeds hard to come by. And the blunt truth is that politicians need rules. Particularly when dosh is involved.

It's funny. Only Davis seems to have got it.


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