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Labour conference: anti-promise Ed Balls ‘can make no commitment’ on cuts or tax

1 October 2012

Last week’s Lib Dem conference dealt with a promise Nick Clegg wished he had never made. This week’s Labour conference is in part about promises Ed Miliband and Ed Balls won’t make at all, or at least not for a few years. The Shadow Chancellor was cagey when he appeared on BBC Breakfast this morning, saying ‘I can make no commitment now to reverse any of those cuts or the tax rises, because we don’t know what the economy’s going to be like in two months’ time let alone in two years’ time when the election comes’.

Having kicked up a real song and dance about the government’s decision to scrap the 50p top rate of income tax in the Budget, Balls also conceded to the BBC interviewers that he couldn’t commit to reimposing the rate:

‘Right now the government is, as I said, spending £3 billion for a tax cut on millionaires, they’re only putting up taxes on pensioners by less than that so, right now, if you stopped both those things, the Treasury would be better off not worse off. There’s a £3 billion cost to that millionaires’ tax cut. I can’t say in 215, two and a half years from now what we can promise now on tax and spending and that’s all tax rates, so we’ll need to look.

‘We all know what happened to Nick Clegg’s promises before the last election and he’s now had to apologise for breaking them and the lesson you learn is you make promises when you know the full facts and the situation. Two and a half years’ time – is this government keeps on failing on the economy in recession, goodness knows where we’ll be and can I promise then to make decisions on tax and spend? You’ll have to wait for our manifesto.’

Balls has announced one spending idea this morning, which he emphasised was ‘clear and costed’: to use the £4 billion proceeds of the 4G auction to build 100,000 new homes. It’s one promise he knows he could keep: but if Miliband wants to be seen as the anti-politics politician, Balls clearly wants to be the anti-promise shadow chancellor.

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Show comments
  • don logan

    I love the annual photograph of this sweaty fat carcass lumbering around.

  • Augustus

    It’s really amazing that politicians don’t see that economic growth is not brought about by fiscally punishing productive citizens, nor by collective impoverishment and social welfare cuts, but by cutting taxes and bureaucracy. The higher the level of taxation, the lower the growth rate. The explanation for this phenomenon is as logical as it is simple. The higher the tax level, the lower the incentive for people to make a productive contribution to society. The higher the fiscal burden, the more resources flow from the productive sector to the ever more inefficient government apparatus. Put at its simplest:
    Lower marginal tax rates = higher economic growth = higher GDP = bigger tax base = higher tax revenues at the lower tax rates.

  • Augustus

    “Ed Balls play football against journalists…”
    Hasn’t Balls grown up yet?

    • realfish

      …and he even manages to cheat on the football pitch. Deviousness is clearly in his nature.

  • James102

    The Inquiry into Vaz may throw a new light on whether it is ‘millionaires’ inside or outside parliament we need to keep an eye on.
    As a class I prefer bankers to politicians. Bankers rarely kill thousands of people to promote their profile on the world stage. Bankers rarely wish to restrict peoples’ freedom to express their opinions.
    Bad timing for Miliband this Inquiry.

  • alexsandr

    Any money from 4g should go to paying the debt back

    • Amergin Selby

      Or being used to build affordable housing and a two year wait on stamp tax that would help young folk get on the property ladder and give the economy a modest prod rather than a kick start. Seems rational and humane to me..

      • alexsandr

        er. why should one part of the population get a break. how about a tax break for the 50somethings with no kids for a change.
        you tax and spenders never learn

      • Nicholas

        Rational and humane and totally impracticable. But trust Labour and a de-closeted Labour supporter like you to presume that bribing carefully selected sections of the electorate is a policy for the benefit of all. After all divide and rule, inciting hatred – whether it is class, race or religion – runs through Labour like DNA (and the irony is that it was they who imposed coercive legislation against inciting hatred!).

        The soundbite sounds good (of course) but where, how, who? Who gets to decide? You people scud along on the intimidatory pretence that everything you propose and do is so caring, so compassionate that it can only be opposed by “bad people” and yet the consequences of your half-baked and divisive policies are invariably the complete opposite of that.

  • Chris lancashire

    The more we see of Balls the better. The most disliked man in British politics is winning votes every day … for the Conservatives.

    • Amergin Selby

      The most disliked? Nah!Try Osborne, Mitchell, Hunt, or even Gove before you start on Balls.

      • Chris lancashire

        All jolly nice chaps old thing compared with the odious Balls.

      • Nicholas

        But you would say that wouldn’t you. You’ve come a little way since you turned up here pretending you were politically “neutral”. Again the mask has slipped and we are now getting the full-blown Labour activist line.

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