Thursday, April 24, 2008

What David Cameron doesn't want us to focus on

I've got a feeling that the NUT strike today will stay as a grievance in the memories of many voters, long after they have forgotten about the chicanery of the 10p tax rate compensation, which was the talk of the Westminister Village, via PMQs, yesterday.

It is a sharp example of the contrast of the real world v the Westminster Bubble.

In the real world, parents have had to rush round to make sure their children are looked after today. Then there is the worry that 11 year olds are about to take SATs and older children are about to take they GCSEs and A levels.

In the Westminster bubble there was a load of hot air about something that didn't happen. I've just read Roy Jenkins' biography of Gladstone. In the 19th Century there were these sorts of parliamentary wrangles all the time on a much larger scale - the parties hardly ever voted as one, there were break-off groups all over the shop, legislation was brought in, then pulled back, modified and tried again - often with intervening dissolutions or government resignations, with Queen Victoria sometimes seeing potential Prime Ministers on a taxi rank basis until she found one who stuck.

I think we have become too sensitive to political debate, and the adjustment of proposals.

To hear David Cameron bleating on about poverty is pathetic.

The truth is that Gordon Brown, in his last budget, dealt a major blow to the Conservatives. He lowered the basic rate of income tax to 20 pence. This is a sort of Holy Grail for the Tories, which they have been trying to get to for years. Gordon Brown has "shot their fox" by introducing the 20 pence rate himself, leaving the Tories with very little else to offer on the tax front. Brown has left the Tories a bit flat footed. No wonder David Cameron is trying to divert attention from this by blowing up the 10p tax rate compensation debate out of complete proportion.

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