In this story last week about the Chancellor’s little local difficulty over the increase in National Insurance, the Tory MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire came up with a real humdinger of a suggestion; or at least it would be if he followed it through to its logical conclusion. In essence, as he sees it, the problem isn’t that the Chancellor broke a promise, it’s that the Tories were silly enough to make the promise in the first place. Matters such as taxation policy are best left vague, so that the government can respond to changes in circumstances.
That needs to be followed through, though. Clearly, without knowing what any putative government is going to do on taxes, it’s difficult to make any spending pledges either. And it isn’t only financial circumstances that might change, so perhaps all policies should be left unstated in case the government feels it needs to do something different. It’s an approach which would lead to very short manifestos. One sentence would be quite enough:
“We will do whatever we think needs to be done at any point in time.”
I’d like to think that it’s an approach which would never catch on, but it actually strikes me as a refreshingly honest statement of the current government’s approach. I’ll bet that the PM won’t be overjoyed at seeing the cat let out of the bag.