Everyone seems to think Labour's proposed two per cent cut in the basic rate of tax is a political masterstroke. The use of the "ace up the sleeve" was "brilliant", says Harry McGee. By pledging instead to implement "a significant cut in the tax paid by ordinary workers Rabbitte has gone right around the Government's Maginot Line and attacked them in the rear" was the view of Stephen Collins. Labour will be pleased that it appears to have seized the initiative. So what's the problem?
I think that the policy is irresponsible and unnecessary. Michael Taft goes into the main factors in a an excellent post that has already generated insightful comment and I would urge everyone to take a look. There was enough in Rabbitte's speech to have given people a sense of Labour's vision of responsibility, freedom and fairness. In many ways the speech was crafted to go beyond the values of the party faithful in the audience and to reach out to a wider public. The tax cutting elements sit uneasily with all the emphasis on responsibility and fairness. The party has committed itself to significant social amelioration in health, housing and chilcare and such programmes need to be funded from an adequate tax base, not from one that is being ever more whittled away.