Darling’s tax fix wins few plaudits
“Once critical Labour MPs hailed it as a masterstroke,” the paper said. “Hopefully it signals the start of a concerted fightback by a prime minister who has been on the ropes for months.”
The Daily Mail says the original decision to scrap the starting 10p rate of tax was “A mistake, yes… but fatal? Hardly.” It says Darling and Prime Minister Gordon Brown “deserve credit for choosing the right means to help those who suffered,” by raising the tax threshhold.
But the Chancellor might want to avoid the rest of the dailies, especially the one printed on pink paper. Darling’s tax announcement “ has shattered any residual idea that Mr Brown’s administration can run an orderly fiscal policy,” says the Financial Times.
The paper concedes that “in policy terms, the plan to put up personal allowances makes sense.” However, it adds that the political cost is heavy — the government will no longer now be able to attack the Conservatives over unfunded promises of tax cuts. “This is a significant weakening of the election campaign armoury,” it says.
The Daily Telegraph, somewhat grudgingly, saying that the Chancellor “deserves congratulations” for doing precisely what the paper had urged last Friday. But it adds that Darling’s statement was “a purely political damage-limitation exercise”, timed “to save Labour’s bacon” in next week’s Crewe and Nantwich by-election.
On a similar theme, the Times suggests that the late MP Gwyneth Dunwoody’s final service to the Labour Party has been in death rather than life. “It’s hard to believe that Alistair Darling would have made the statement he did on the 10p tax rate yesterday if it were not for fear of a massive defeat” in Crewe next week, Dunwoody’s former seat.
The paper calculates that the 2.7 billion pound price is the approximate equivalent of cutting the basic rate of income tax by 1p in the pound.
The Guardian notes that Darling effectively announced an emergency budget that “gave more money away than any real budget since 2001.”
The Independent says the 10p tax saga has been “an object lesson in bad government“. “What began as a cynical attempt to curry favour with the middle-classes has backfired in the most explosive manner,” it says. The Daily Express agrees it is “no way to run a country“.
The Sun asks who will be picking up the tab for the change. Unless Darling raises the money elsewhere, it draws the inevitable conclusion –“We will all pay more tax“.