Saturday, December 03, 2005

Precisely What We Were Worried About...

The FT has an worrying interview with George Osborne, DC's campaign manager. George- now widely tipped to retain the Treasury brief- is attempting to talk down expectations for DC's first 100 days:

“Anyone expecting a miracle on day one, and a complete turnaround in the political environment which has existed in this country for 10 years, and suddenly we’re going to be 20 points ahead in the polls, I think is going to be disappointed. I think this is going to be a long hard slog.”

Long hard slog? We thought DC's claim to our leadership rested on the sales proposition that he could replace bloody trench warfare with a brilliant Blitzkrieg campaign of movement and optimism. He's never mentioned a long hard slog.

But it's a little late now- for us members the expectations hurdle for a DC leadership remains a 10 percentage point uplift in our poll rating- just like Tony delivered. After all that hype, anything less, sadly, would be seen as failure.

More concerning still, are George's comments about fiscal policy:

“The whole point about [sharing the proceeds of growth] is that it shows that they’re both important, that you don’t have to choose one over the other, that investing in public services and reducing taxes are both necessary for economic prosperity.”

He believes taxation is too high, but also warns there could be little or no scope for tax cuts if the Tories regained power. “If there’s a problem with the economy then the country can’t afford tax cuts.”

So don't hold your breath.

Does he at least still agree with Mr Cameron’s assessment that the flat tax is an “exciting idea”?

“It’s an exciting idea but that doesn’t mean it can necessarily work in a mature tax system. We have to be fiscally responsible and we have to introduce a tax reform that works.”

Well, yes. Nobody is going to argue with the last bit. But I reckon George is going to discover that finding tax reforms that "work" is rather easier said than done. There are always trade-offs- winners, losers, and all sorts of unknowns. All we can really ask of our political leaders is that they have the right instincts.

And of course, the guts to take action.


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