Labour have one of the easiest jobs in modern UK politics. Basically sit back and say they would do things differently whilst slagging off the Tories and the Lib Dems. It is just too easy for them and it is starting to feel like they are Ronnie Rosenthal and having rounded the Aston Villa goalkeeper the open goal that is gaping might not be filled with the football at their feet.
You see people aren’t stupid. Certainly not people who vote in a General Election. A lot of people get annoyed by it but most who troop down to the polling station will do so after having listened to a few bits on the news and read some stuff that has been pushed through their letterbox and/or on the internet at a minimum. So whilst the polls say one thing today that is not an accurate representation of how people will vote in 2015.
Today I sat here and listened to Ed Balls sound like the drunk uncle at a wedding reception who thinks that he knows everything. It was genuinely one of the worst performances in the House of Commons I have ever seen from a front bencher. He wanted to claim benefit for the petrol duty rise being scraped but his party wanted it only to be delayed until April instead of being scraped altogether. They brought a proposal in front of MPs and it was voted on just last month. They lost the vote by 48.
Now it is extremely fair to say that George Osbourne and I do not see eye to eye. I think he’s one of the most smarmy gits in the Commons and I also think he’s one of the stupidest members of the cabinet. However he schooled Ed Balls today.
Another big political point scoring point is the cut in the top level of tax for the rich. Politically this is easy for Labour as the majority of us think that the rich should pay more so the poor have to pay less. The thing is the higher the tax rate doesn’t automatically mean more money in the Treasury’s coffers. If anyone has ever played SimCity they’ll know that if you have a high rate of tax then your city doesn’t grow very quickly and the demand for new properties goes down. You’ll also know that you’ll raise money but not a lot. If you cut taxes then more people come into your city and therefore more people paying a lower level of tax is actually a healthier state of affairs.
The numbers the PM quoted in PMQs this afternoon have been quoted before and no-one has disputed them so we’ll take them as fact. At the 50p tax rate there were 6,000 people paying tax raising £6.7bn in taxes. The previous year when the 40p tax rate was in place 16,000 people were paying on that tax rate and they brought in £13.7bn in tax revenue for the Treasury. So more people paying less actually led to £7bn more money being raised. Isn’t the point of taxation to raise money for the Treasury and not political point scoring?
If you ask people on the doorstep today they’ll say they hate this policy but if they are reasonable and you can talk to them about this then they will listen to the facts. It is the same for the Lib Dems with regards to tuition fees. If you can get people to listen as you explain the new system they’ll be far less hostile. The same with the NHS when you ask people whether they had to pay for their A&E trip or whether they had to pay to visit the doctor or for physiotherapy or whatever. When outside an election the majority of people only listen to the news narrative but in an election period they are wiling to listen far more.
All Labour had to do was pillory the coalition parties whilst sounding credible with alternatives. Today they didn’t sound credible and their attempts at pillorying the coalition parties didn’t actually pass the smell test. As for credible alternatives…well yeah I don’t think I have to give that the time of day at this juncture. It seemed all too easy but maybe it is too easy and the two Ed’s will miss even worse than Ronnie missed and come 2015 the ball will be ballooned over the crossbar.