Osborne’s rebuttal shows Tories want it both ways

Conservative Home this evening reports that “George Osborne has issued a detailed rebuttal of Labour’s claims.” But the clarity now apparent on various policies provokes the question of why they let favourable headlines go unchecked earlier this year.

The Tory document details that:

“Labour’s dossier includes a £2.4bn cost of abolishing the 50p tax rate, but the Conservatives have been very clear that they have not pledged to reverse this measure.”

The report goes on to say, “We have been very clear that we cannot pledge to reverse this tax increase or any of Labour’s other tax increases on higher earners.”

But the Tories can’t have it both ways.

David Cameron told the Today programme in April: “We don’t approve of the high marginal tax rates. But it’s got to form its place in the queue of taxes we want to get rid of. How do we get rid of them? By getting to grips with spending now.” The Evening Standard ran a story the same day which reported “Cameron follows Boris: I’ll reverse Labour’s 50p tax.” Why did they not seek a correction at the time?

The Tory dossier goes on to outline that, “The tax cut [for married couples at a cost of £1.5 billion] that Labour have costed is not Conservative Party policy. We have pledged to recognise marriage in the tax system. There are various different ways in which that could be done which may cost much less.” But the Tories were happy to see Daily Mail headines reading “Now it’s war: David Cameron in savage attack on Labour’s ‘pathological’ refusal to accept marriage IS key to happy families”. The article reports: “Mr Cameron said he would not budge from his belief that all married couples should be rewarded through the tax system.”

UPDATE 19.09:

Paul Waugh confirms that the Conservative party did not seek a clarification of the Evening Standard story in April.

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