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Labour's Empty Rhetoric Will Not Convince the Electorate

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The Labour Party's response to last week's Budget saw the final nail hammered into the coffin of New Labour, with a response laden with class war rhetoric. The Socialists are clearly back in charge.

As Labour went on the offensive claiming that the budget was one for millionaires, I was given to thinking that we could do with a few more. Millionaires spend money and employ people. We won't get more millionaires if we keep taxing them out of existence.

This used to be something that the Labour Party recognised. Who can forget Tony Blair famously saying that "It's not a burning ambition of mine to make sure that David Beckham earns less money". Unlike many on the Labour benches today, Tony got it.

But of course Tony Blair is being airbrushed out of Labour's history as the court of Brown is in the ascendant. Somehow I am not sure that airbrushing from history their most successful prime minister is the most sensible political tactic, but who am I to worry about that?

The fact is that Labour did used to recognise that rich people were mobile. Indeed Ed Balls himself made exactly this point when he was City Minister. It is probably why Labour failed to introduce the 50p rate until 37 days before they left office. Call me a cynic, but it looks to me like a political trap set for an incoming Conservative government. If it was, it shows a set of tactics based more around playing the game of politics than doing the right thing by the economy and the country.

In my experience the electorate will recognise when a government is acting in good faith and doing the right thing. This was a budget that rewards work. This was a budget which saw the largest ever increase in the personal tax allowance to the benefit of 24 million ordinary families.

As someone who thinks everyone pays too much tax, I would have liked to see more from the Chancellor, but we do still have the legacy of Labour's debt to tackle. And keeping the 50p rate would not have made an iota of difference. It doesn't raise any additional money; it is the highest tax rate in the G20 and the tax changes announced by the Chancellor will raise more from the rich.

When Labour left office, £1 in every four spent by the government was borrowed. It is simply not sustainable to keep living beyond your means. And it wasn't just down to the financial crisis. Labour were already spending more than the country could afford.

Until Labour face up to the unpleasant truths of their role in the country's present economic crisis, their rhetoric is going to fail to convince. Playing the political game with aggressive putdowns which play to the gallery will only get them so far. The electorate want to hear what they will do - but that is just all too difficult.

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