Labour’s support for Hammond’s tax cuts sounds reasonable—at least, until you think what £900m could buy. But longer term, the party is boxing itself inby Chaminda Jayanetti / November 2, 2018 / Leave a comment
Halloween means fancy dress, but Labour may have taken things a bit too far with their full-on Cage-Travolta face-swap this week.
John McDonnell and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn—though not, given his performance at PMQs, Corbyn himself—lined up to say Labour would accept the government’s decision to cut taxes for those earning more than £46,000 a year, in an attempt not to scare off upper-middle earners in target seats at the next election.
Meanwhile, Labour centrists and Corbyn-sceptics, who once defined themselves by their ability to connect with middle-class swing voters in a way Corbyn supposedly never would, attacked the leadership’s position, accusing the party of backing a move that only helped the better off and did nothing for the poor.
Labour’s infamous 2015 “Labstention,” in which the party’s centrists watered down their opposition to Tory benefit cuts while Corbyn and McDonnell opposed them, is now reprinted with the colours reversed. The leftists now sound centrist, the centrists now sound leftist, and a fresh-faced outsider might struggle to tell which is which.
It is true that Labour’s stance carries an electoral logic, given that the party won unexpected but crucial support from higher earning Remain voters at last year’s election.
Limiting income tax rises to those earning more than £80,000—the party’s current policy—also helps quarantine tax rises sufficiently up the income scale as to avoid a 1992-style ‘tax bombshell’, when Labour’s plans to raise income tax to fund public services helped wreck their election campaign.
McDonnell’s stance is also entirely in keeping with the party mani…