Yesterday came Labour’s announcement about their plan to get rid of non-dom status in Great Britain. Hundreds of years of tax exile, brought to a shuddering halt by Prime Minister Miliband. Well, not really. This was a typical Labour announcement, on par with the tuition fees tinker and the zero hours fudge. If you look into the detail of what they are actually proposing, they basically want to adjust some of the details around non-dom status and how it would work. A very tiny bit.
Then came the cherry on top from a Tory perspective: Ed Balls said in January that abolishing non-dom status would cost the country money. I guess it’s a good thing Labour aren’t really proposing to abolish it then.
Labour have fallen into a rut when it comes to policy announcements, one in which they end up getting pain from every direction as a result. The Tories get to go on about how Labour are just “tinkering around the edges”; the Left can go on about how Labour aren’t really serious about tackling tax avoidance; everyone gets to go on about how Labour don’t seem to know what they’re doing in relation to policy announcements. Yet it seems not to matter.
The Tories have not moved ahead in the polls definitively as many of us predicted. It may still happen; but the hour is getting late. Given the slant in the electoral system towards Labour, neck in neck would suit the red team fine. They may just be able to sneak into Number 10 quietly as the largest party in a hung parliament.
So here’s my advice to Labour. Look guys, you seem to suck at announcing policy, no offence. It always comes across as a bunch of equivocation that pleases no one, and falls apart on inspection to boot. Also while we’re talking here: Ed Miliband, while he has been all right thus far, was never going to be your strongest card. But like I’ve already said, the Tory brand appears to be so weak that none of this may end up mattering. Therefore, it seems to me the smartest thing the Labour Party can do from here until polling day is to say as little as possible and for Ed to be wheeled out as sparingly as can be managed.
Yes, the Tories will attack you for this. They will call Ed “The Invisible Man”. Who cares? The damage you can do to yourselves by announcing daft policies that make no sense or having Ed grapple with a food stuff and come out of it badly is much greater than anything the nasty old Conservatives can say about you anyway. All the public seem to be listening out for is gaffes, so by saying nothing you seem to stand the best chance of not ruining your quiet crawl to Whitehall that is, against all logic, still on.
The Tories have run a terrible campaign so far – I think your best bet is to stand back and hope they continue to do so and let the chips fall where they may.