I suspect there’ll be concern in Tory campaign HQ. Not because of polls. They’re ahead by around eight percent on average. Not because of press. They’re still getting a stupidly easy ride. Not because of the public. Cameron hasn’t had any particularly bad run-ins with irate voters yet.
No, what will have Team Cameron sweating is policy. This last couple of weeks, we’ve heard all about the National Insurance Contributions. Labour want them to rise by 1%. Half out of your salary (assuming you earn over £20,000), and half from your bosses. That rise is to pay down the national debt and deficit, minimising the impact to frontline services. The Tories plan to scrap this rise. Some of your bosses support not having to pay their half percent. Big surprise there then. They’d much rather have a VAT hike which they can pass on to everyone (including those who earn less than £20,000. Sometimes a LOT less) They’ve also promised not make “swingeing” cuts to services. So that’s reduce tax, reduce debt, and keep up service levels. Nine year olds know that doesn’t add up.
Cameron gave increased efficiencies by way of explanation for this mathematical miracle. The idea being that a Conservative government could find an extra £12 billion in savings through making things more efficient. This despite the current Labour government already having a fully audited programme to carry out £15 billion of efficiencies, written by the same man who the Tories took advice from. So he’s apparently forgotten to mention 12 billion quid worth of savings when he reported to Labour. Whoops. Of course, these efficiencies have begun to unravel with confirmation that they would include the loss of 40,000 jobs in the public sector.
So team Cameron moved on from this big set-piece tax cut announcement to another set-piece announcement. They said, probably with excited smiles, that they intend to recognise marriage in the tax system. They’ve long promised they were going to do this. And they did. Big smiles from Tory press officers as the boss announced that married couples would get a stunning £3 a week in tax breaks. £3!! There were, of course, a few qualifiers. First, this tax break would only be for people earning less than £44,000. Fair enough. Second, this is a transfer of a partner’s personal allowance. So, it’s only applicable if they haven’t used that personal allowance. So, they have to earn less than £6475 per year. Or in other words, they have to not work. So this isn’t just a pointless signal that Tories are pro-marriage. No, this is a signal that Tories are pro-marriage where one partner stays at home.
In case that doesn’t make sense, I’ll give you a scenario. Couple number
1 have been married 3 years. He is a middle manager who earns £40k and she stays at home. They get this tax break. Couple number 2 have been together 25 years. They’ve never married, but have 3 kids. She works for an insurance company on £40k, he stays at home and looks after the kids. They don’t get the tax break. Couple number 3 have been married for 12 years. They live on a council estate where they struggle to make ends meet. They both work hard and earn national minimum wage of just over £10k . They have 2 kids. They don’t get the tax break. Does that seem fair to you?
And the reason that Cameron et al will be worried? He’s unveiled 2 of his biggest manifesto commitments and still hasn’t sold the public. There’s no widening of the gap in polls. There’s no sign of a Tory victory. There’s no easy stroll into Downing Street. And tomorrow, Labour present their Manifesto.
Still, three quid a week! And I obviously believe in the equal sharing of wealth so I’ll get £1.50 a week. I’ve proposed for less before now.