Sunday, January 15, 2006

Simon Hughes changes track on tax (and public services)

Just an addendum. This morning's Observer (15/01/06) reports that:

"Simon Hughes signalled... that he was ready to ditch the party's proposal for a new 50p top band on income tax... rather than focus on raising the top level of personal income tax, his main aim would be to remove the poorest people from paying the tax altogether. There were areas where additional revenue might be raised, including environmental taxes and possible windfall levies, he suggested"

On public services he said that:

"Though he remained committed to state-provided health and education for all... there was also a need for diversity and 'choice.' The test of delivery, he said, had to be what was best for local communities - to whom health, education and other services must ultimately be accountable. 'There has been a proper appreciation that the public service was too stagnant, not responsive enough - too monolithic'"

This suggests that even if the Orange Bookers don't win the election, they've won (some of) the argument. I have the impression Simon is a principled guy so I doubt he's cynically 'positioning'.

It's interesting what effect this might have on his votes. Many of the fervent Hughes supporters (on the LDYS forums, at least) are strong advocates of his perceived position on public services and tax and may feel betrayed. They don't have any other candidates to go to on policy but if they decided to switch then (paradoxically to journalists who see things in left/right), the favoured alternative candidate to many of these Hughes supporters is Mark Oaten. Simon may attract some Menzies/Huhne supporters who were tempted by Simon's reputation for activism and campaigning but who were afraid he would take unimaginative policy positions.



  • At 8:20 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    There seems to be something of a consensus gathering among the candidates on tax - 'reduce' our 50% proposal, raise the money through eco-taxes, and increase the income threshold at the bottom when you start paying tax. I think we can all get behind this.

    Simon Hughes talking about 'choice' in public services is highly disturbing though :(

  • At 2:36 pm , Blogger Tristan said...

    I am glad to see that there is a consensus developing on taxation. The important thing is to reduce the tax burden on the poorest (ie increase the income tax threshold).

    Choice in public services can only be a good thing, if the choice is a real choice. That is, we are not choosing between government approved identikit versions of the same and that /everyone/ gets a choice.

  • At 9:50 pm , Anonymous work ideas said...

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