Coffee House

Return of the native as Danny Alexander tries to differentiate from Tories

5 February 2014

‘I know a few people who could arrange just that,’ remarked a Tory MP this morning on reading Danny Alexander’s remarks in the Mirror that the Conservatives would reduce the top rate of tax to 40p ‘over my dead body’. He told the newspaper:

‘The top rate of tax has been an issue of late. Labour wants to take it back up to 50p, I think the 45p rate is the right place to be. I wouldn’t go to cutting below 45p – that would happen over my dead body. It’s better to say we are going to stick where we are.’

It’s worth pointing out that Alexander only means over his dead body in this Parliament. A source close to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury tells me: ‘What he’s saying is over my dead body in this Parliament. He’s very explicit in the language he uses.’ There is a clear reluctance to make tax cuts a red line for a post 2015 coalition.

But clearly this interview is part of the Lib Dem strategy to pull apart from the Conservatives, and Alexander’s own strategy to remind everyone that he is a Lib Dem after colleagues have long suspected him of ‘going native’ at the Treasury. He has beefed up his team recently and is putting himself out there more often in op-eds and interviews. One thing he’s very keen to emphasise is that the recovery has a Lib Dem DNA, arguing in today’s interview that ‘we must get our fair share of credit for the economic recovery’ and the ‘economic plan is not a Tory plan, it’s a Coalition plan. There’s as much Lib Dem thinking as Tory thinking.’

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Show comments
  • mandelson

    Peter Hitchens predicted a fake falling out between the LibDem/Con party as we approached the election. Seems to be happening.

  • Smithersjones2013

    I know a few people who could arrange just that,’ remarked a Tory MP this morning on reading Danny Alexander’s remarks in the Mirror that the Conservatives would reduce the top rate of tax to 40p ‘over my dead body’

    Volunteers should apply to……

    Personally I think the Libdems with their exceedingly public duplicitous backstabbing are demonstrating exactly why Coalitions are such a bad thing. There is a sure way to ensure that the Libdems can not be involved in one again. Don’t vote for them. Let them shrink down to their core vote. See how many MP’s they have then.

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    I don’t approve of bullying but it is time to beat up the speccie four eyed ginger kid.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, I do seem to recall him being referenced as a “ginger rodent”, and it might just be time for a bit of fumigation.

  • Denis_Cooper

    If the Tory leaders were canny they would not be looking for ways to knock the LibDems down from their present low level of support, about 10%, but instead they would be devising ways to bolster the LibDems back up towards their previous level of support, about 24%, but predominantly at the expense of Labour not themselves.

    Once again I recommend the opinion poll charts here:

    and in this context particularly the left hand side of those charts, which show the yellow line slanting down steeply after the last general election while the red line slants up almost as steeply and crosses the blue line.

    Of the 14% or so of support lost by the LibDems during that period something like 11% transferred to Labour, and even if they had got the boundary changes they wanted the Tories would still find it quite hard to get a Commons majority while the anti-Tory vote remained consolidated on just one of its two rivals to that extent.

    As for its enemy, and the enemy of all three of the old unpatriotic pro-EU rival parties, UKIP, that may now be giving slight help to the Tories to close up on Labour by taking slightly more new support from Labour than them, about 1% more, or being well within the margins of error that could just be one of the random fluctuations in the polls.

  • James Strong

    Cameron should sack him for this.
    Regardless of the merits of his position, and I think taxes should be as low as possible, it should not be acceptable for Ministers to seek to drive policy by issuing public threats/ultimatums/blackmail.
    If this kind of open negotiation/threat is allowed for in the Coalition agreement then Cameron should also sack the negotiators.
    If it is not allowed for in the Coalition agreement then I don’t think Alexander has a defence for making this statement public.

  • Colonel Mustard

    I hope the Spectator gets on the case of New Labour’s fake charities scam to follow up on the quangos article. Lets have a cover story on this one please.

  • RavenRandom

    Seems a bit severe. Death or allowing people to keep 60% rather than 55% of their own money. I reckon the Tories should cut the top tax rate to 40%, we could do with a few Lib Dem hara kiris. Muppet.

  • Nicholas chuzzlewit

    Politicians from the so called ‘major parties’ seem incredulous that parties such as UKIP who while, seemingly, short of detailed policy are nevertheless persuading traditional Lib/Lab/Con supporters to change allegiance. Placing political considerations ahead of what may or may not be good for the country economically or socially seems to be a large part of the problem for Lib/Lab/Con. A cut to 40% in the marginal rate of tax would probably raise more revenue, promote the impression that Britain encourages aspiration and that it is’open for business’. Danny Alexander casually dismisses these vital factors which are key to our future prosperity in favour of cheap and glaringly transparent party advantage. British people can, generally, see through such vapid political blandishments and cut through to the truth and are fed up with being lied to. UKIP etc appear to speak their language. Indeed, to amend the words of two notable idiots, British voters are not anti politics they are anti politics as usual.

    • Makroon

      Talking about people “going native”, you show strong signs of doing exactly that with your idiot UKIP formulation “Lib/Lab/Con”, it’s a shame, I had you down as one of the CH’s more intelligent posters. Can you really not see any differences between the parties, and the total futility of the UKIP “protest” ?
      Everytime the LibDems try to “differentiate” themselves, their poll rating drops. Is it because they always “differentiate” themselves on the wrong policies, or because they remind people that they are still around.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Apologies, I remain a Conservative and merely resorted to ‘shorthand’. I do not believe UKIP can win seats in 2015 and that by splitting the right wing vote they will deliver the catastrophe that is Ed Miliband and Ed Balls to Downing Street. That said, I retain my belief that people are sick of being lied to by traditional politicians of all stripes , hence the emergence of UKIP. The real evil in this country is socialism and it’s cancerous invasion of So many aspects of British life.

        • Denis_Cooper

          Except that UKIP is now splitting the left wing vote as well, and it is even beginning to get difficult to say which effect would predominate. If UKIP gains 3% more support of which 1% comes from the Tories and 2% from Labour, as appears to have been the case recently, obviously that helps to narrow the Labour lead over the Tories.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Fair comment Denis. My essential point however was to emphasise the growing disaffection of the public for traditional parties and their perceived lack of veracity.

        • BarkingAtTreehuggers

          Why not apply logic for once and assert that it is

          – the voting system –

          that is the cause of all this ‘misrepresentation’.
          Or did I not get the joke, yet again?

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Well you get the wrong end of every other stick so probably, yes. Are you suggesting that people are happy with the traditional parties? That was a rhetorical question so please do not answer. I just do not have the will to deal with another obtuse idiot.

            • BarkingAtTreehuggers

              NC, you need to calm down.
              I have pointed out an obvious discrepancy in our system rather than the ‘they are all the same!’ ‘shoot them all now!’ nonsense and your riposte is what? I am beginning to think that you must be a hardline Labour supporter on a day pass indeed, playing a little Jekyll and Hyde on some forum and then going off on one before returning to the asylum for light refreshment and comfort. Dear me.

              later edit: your erratic box ticking habit makes me think that you are underage.

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                I did not use the phrase “shoot them all now” so kindly refrain from putting words in my mouth. The point I made was that people doubt the veracity of traditional parties and are thus attracted to newer parties who seem to reflect their views in a more honest manner. The inference the traditional parties might like to draw from this shift of allegiance is that perhaps they should develop policies that the electorate actually want and articulate them honestly. You flippantly dismiss my original comment and suggest rudely that I “apply logic for once” and then sarcastically make reference to not “getting the joke again”. Incidentally, you actually acknowledged that you had got the wrong end of the stick yesterday. You conclude your latest effort with references to asylums etc in order to emphasis your own sense of calm and superiority. When somebody like you insults my intelligence, I will treat you like an idiot because you act like a vain idiot.

                • BarkingAtTreehuggers

                  That’s fine. We cleared the air.
                  Now, lets summarise the outcome.
                  1- not all parties are ‘all the same’, what excrement of large male cows that would be to even SAY, never mind THINK it.
                  2- our voting system IS the single most obvious reason why no parties that ought to be represented are not represented. There are a variety of reasons for that.

                  I doubt your ability to follow anything I just came out with there.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  I have wasted enough time on the ramblings of a semi-literate.

                • James Strong

                  I don’t think there is a Nobel Prize specifically in Zoology, which might disappoint you because you’d be sure to get it for your discovery of male cows.

                • BarkingAtTreehuggers

                  Is this blog not moderated like over at the DT?
                  You need to make things up to be understood, yet I acknowledge that could lead to further misunderstandings. So be it.

                • James Strong

                  Fair point. I apologise. I hadn’t worked out what you were doing.
                  Yes, this blog is moderated but I don’t know how they decide on what is ‘offensive’.

        • Makroon

          Thanks for the clarification.

    • Mynydd

      If a cut in the tax rate from 45% to 40% “would probably raise more revenue” then by the same logic, a cut in the 40% rate to 35% and a cut in the 20% rate to 15% “would probably raise more revenue”

      With respect to ” promote the impression that Britain encourages aspiration and is “open for business” Apart from the few at the very top, people don’t live by impressions they live by food on the table. The aspiration of young people today is to have full time work, 40 hours a week paying a wage that can support a family. If Britain is “open for business” why are they being sold to overseas buyers?

      “British people can, generally, see through such vapid political blandishments and cut through to the truth and are fed up with being lied to” go and tell that to Mr Cameron and the Conservative party.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Labour Troll. Ignore please.

      • ButcombeMan

        Your first para is not “the same logic”.

        There is an optimum rate of tax which balances suppression of effort for little reward, against revenue gain.

        This is well understood by economists if not by many socialists.

        The actual optimum figure is probably just below 40% and this was even understood by the otherwise economically incompetent Gordon Brown. The reason that tax stood at 40% when he was Chancellor.

        High tax rates DO suppress effort for extra reward. It has applied to me, I do not need the money so I wound down my part time, mainly export business, because even 40% tax was too much.

        As things are, the coalition position is probably the right one, leave the top rate at 45% and if any relaxation can be given, focus on the lower paid and particularly those in the squeezed middle who just get into 40% tax.

        The ability to do this relaxation will become vitally important when interest rates and mortgage rates rise, as they will eventually need to do.

        • Mynydd

          “There is an optimum rate of tax which balances suppression of effort for little reward, against revenue gain” If this applies to the top rate it must also apply also to the middle and bottom rates.

          • ButcombeMan

            I am unsure exactly what point you are trying to make.

            The incentive to work harder for higher reward varies fairly obviously with income level, it varies once essentials have been provided for and even more once a level of luxury and comfort have been obtained.

            The whole point of not overtaxing is to stimulate further economic activity by those already well provided for. The simple reason is, those people are best equipped generally to provide more opportunity for the least well off. it creates a virtuius circle,

      • Andrew3049

        If a cut in the tax rate from 45% to 40% “would probably raise more revenue” then by the same logic, a cut in the 40% rate to 35% and a cut in the 20% rate to 15% “would probably raise more revenue”
        No Mynydd, that logic doesn’t follow.

        To take the argument to extremes – if you cut the top rate of tax from 100% to 95%, you would clearly raise more revenue as at 100% nobody would bother paying anybody over £150k.

        However if you cut the top rate of tax from 5% to 0%, you would clearly raise less revenue (none at all!).

        At some point, higher tax rates serve as a disincentive to work and earn; by the same token, at some point, lower tax rates cease to serve as an incentive to work and earn.

        Somewhere in between 100% and 0% is a rate of tax which would raise the most money. Where that point is is a matter of debate and working it out is as much an art as a science – but somewhere not very far either side of the current 45% seems to be about right (in my view).

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Excellent explanation although wasted on a leftist Troll. The location of the ‘point’ will also vary according to prevailing economic conditions, interest rates etc etc.

        • Mynydd

          What about the logic, if the rate was cut from 40% to 35% I would work harder and more hours, because I would keep more of my wages, and even pay more in tax. The argument is not about extremes it’s about 5% up or down.

      • kyalami

        Have you heard of the Laffer curve?

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Yes she thinks it’s at Silverstone.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Andrew3049 and ButcombeMan have very kindly provided logical explanations and saved me the trouble. Can we now expect you to stop churning out the same drivel on this subject? Not a chance. Just as the reason for increased borrowing have been explained to you repeatedly, you will carry on peddling the same discredited socialist propaganda.

        • Colonel Mustard

          He won’t be back. He’s sprayed his graffiti and will make exactly the same stupid comments in another thread. They are now tagging throughout the threads and it will probably get worse as we get nearer the elections.

          It’s relentless propaganda not commentary. But their trolls here are so thick that Labour must think the Speccie is not much of a threat.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Propaganda and dissembling are all they have. Socialists have lost all the arguments and are too lazy and stupid to change.

      • Colonel Mustard

        No wonder your party thinks high taxation is the answer for everything. No wonder Wales is in such a parlous state.

        • Mynydd

          Mrs Thatcher had a basic tax rate of 30% Mr Brown had a basic tax rate of 20% It seems to me that compared to 20%, 30% is high taxation.

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