Political

Re-writing the 1979 Conservative Party general election manifesto

Today Iain Dale has written:

I am pushed to remember any party in this country which has EVER promised up front tax cuts in its manifesto. If I am right, it seems this spat is over nothing. Margaret Thatcher certainly promised lower taxes in 1979 but didn’t specify what they would be or how she would achieve them.

This is a common comment from Conservatives, with the general line being: ‘hey, don’t expect us to be too specific on tax, vague aspirations are ok, because you know even Mrs Thatcher didn’t promise specific tax cuts’.

Francis Maude has previously made a more extreme version of this claim:

You will look in vain through three Thatcher manifestos for any commitment to cut taxes.

But what did the 1979 Conservative manifesto really say?

We shall cut income tax at all levels.

Ooops. If that isn’t an up front promise to cut taxes, I’m not quite sure what it is?

P.S. Do you think Conservatives would say it is ok for any other party to argue that something is a key policy area for it, but it’s ok to keep secret what the plans are? Imagine the outrage from Iain & co if, say, Nick Clegg said, “Introducing green taxes is really important, but I’m not going to tell you what or when or how much. You’ll just have to wait and see.”

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