Yesterday, Tory MP Mark Garnier told the Independent the following in regards to George Osborne’s plan to level out pension provision for higher earners:
“I am not sure the politics of hammering the rich works. The people who will benefit are very unlikely to change the way they vote, while those who lose out will be understandably angry. If you say to 40p taxpayers that they are going to be penalised, there would be a certain amount of unrest.”
Putting aside the notion of what “unrest” might be caused by wealthy pensioners getting stiffed (insert a lame joke here involving sending one’s driver to picket outside Downing Street), look at that quote again. I mean, wow. If the Conservatives thought that there was any sort of opposition in this country, you’d never see a Tory MP, never mind one on the Treasury Select Committee use the phrase “hammering the rich” pejoratively. They obviously feel like they can get away with this sort of thing these days. Probably because they can.
I know some of you will just take this as another “hammer Corbyn” article, but I really am trying to demonstrate something here. The above quote involves a Conservative MP criticising Osborne for doing something he feels is too economically left wing. And will Corbyn or better yet, McDonnell pick up on this in any way? I can almost assure you they will not, and even if they do, said response will be eye-wateringly lame. Because they aren’t really even trying to hold the Tories to account anymore from the looks of things.
And I know this isn’t an original line by this stage already (only four months into Corbyn’s leadership!), but PMQS are really starting to become a joke. The Tories have genuinely turned the whole thing on its head and made it about holding the opposition to account on, well, you know the list, we don’t need to go over it all again. Let’s just say the Conservatives are spoiled for targets. Meanwhile outside of the chamber rarely does Labour get in an even semi-okay blow on the Tories. It wasn’t brilliant in the last parliament at doing this either, but Labour has got exponentially worse in this regard since September 2015.
Where does this all end? A Tory MP making a casual remark to the Guardian about doing away with social housing all together?
“It’s an outdated concept,” says MP for Witheringshire, Crispin Toomes-Plantangenet. “We needed it in the 20th century, but now people should work hard and pay for their own bloody place to live.”
Really, I just despair.
Matt (Bristol) says
my clock is ticking to the day a thinktank reintroduces the workhouse into British political debate…
Steve Peers says
A fair point, but it’s best to get the details of the policy correct: it would reduce the tax break for pension *contributions* in the 40% tax band, so it’s not about ‘pensioners’ but people saving for a pension. Anyway I think the MP’s reasoning is confused: will any of the 40% band taxpayers jump to Corbyn’s Labour because of this policy? Would he even pledge to overturn it? Whereas increasing the tax break for pension contributions for basic-rate taxpayers (also part of the plan) has a reasonable chance of making more of them have positive thoughts about the Tory party. This is really all about trying to undermine Osborne’s leadership bid.