I wrote in the previous blog (Budgeting for Hard Choices – in 2011)
“So far the Tories problem [about public finances and tax] has escaped serious media scrutiny – and maybe they will escape right up to the Election given how unpopular Labour is and the bias of our main newspapers. But come Budget 2011 the buck would have to stop. Fiscal conservatism may make a good sound bite now, but it makes for some very unpalatable policy choices down the road.”
I reckoned without the redoubtable Ken Clarke – the last Tory Chancellor and currently their Business spokesperson (or the Shadow Shadow Chancellor as some wags have dubbed him). Yesterday Clarke took the Tories new ‘fiscal conservative’ stance seriously and said they’d have to ditch the commitment to remove ‘all but millionaires’ from inheritance tax. Within hours he had been slapped down and forced to retract, but the debate about tax and the Tories is now firmly in the public domain.