The Professors passion for "The Science of Deceit" started here...

Employed by the Ministry (in a covert capacity) to help introduce the law ending dishonest politics, you can see his hand all over the posts of past.

Current political circumstances have forced him to reveal himself and as we speak, MPs are signing up to re-introduce The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill for debate with over 80,000 voters supporting them.

Posts before Jan '08 are purely for the record (with hindsight they make fascinating reading). Posts after May 13th mark the Professor's return.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Vote for 20% VAT ?

Saturday saw the Telegraph saying the Conservatives were secretly eying up a hike in the VAT rate to 20% - followed promptly by denials from CCHQ. How short our memories are. Is Cameron out to pip Maggie from her coveted position in our top ten political porkies of all time ?

If you were wearing short trousers in 1979 you won't remember the jaw-dropping impact of Thatcher and her Chancellor Geoffrey Howe announcing they would be raising VAT from 8% to 15% (I've a distant recollection of my father mouthing the words "fuck me" over a breakfast newspaper). The hike itself wasn't the cause for national gob-smacked disbelief, it was the bare-faced lie that preceeded it in the Tory manifesto's election promise...

Labour had long been saying the only way the Tories could afford their promised tax cuts was to double VAT - hence Thatcher and Howe's absolute and explicit rebuttal, “We have absolutely no intention of doubling VAT.” At the time, The Daily Mail was so convinced, it included the “double VAT” charge in a splash on “Labour’s dirty dozen lies”, just days before the campaign concluded.

The secret plan, hatched at Howe’s house on the Fentiman Road a year before the election, was of course completely different : raise VAT from 8 to 15 per cent. Howe announced the rise in his first Budget.

Cut to my father realising he'd been duped.

As the FT pointed out, in his memoirs Howe was unapologetic, describing the row as “part of the small change of election campaigning”.

At least Cameron isn't saying he won't double VAT - that'd smell of a porky in the region of 29 to 35%. Perhaps.

In any case, consider the electioneering for next year officially started.

For further reading, this article in the Spectator shines a light on Mr Brown's record and the relationship between taxes and election promises. Ho hum.

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