By Tim Hardy
Cue outrage as the masters of smoke and mirrors, the Conservative party press office, wrong-foot the opposition with rumours that Osborne will cut the top tax rate of 50% for those earning over £150,000.
I’ll be delighted to be proved wrong, but my instincts tells me this will not happen.
This is just a ruse to soften people up so they welcome with relief a slightly less regressive budget that will nonetheless continue to put the interests of the extremely rich above all others but in a less headline stealing manner.
The Conservatives know full well that keeping people in a state of fury railing against every new outrage keeps them ineffective.
Theirs is a campaign of shock and awe, like those described in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, and this is just another feint to exhaust those opposed to their policies.
Political support is based on gut decisions and crude messages about fairness. Nobody understands the fine detail of the Health and Social Care bill – its incoherence is reason enough to abandon it before it is too late – but nothing that has been said or done has changed the instinctive reaction of the majority that this is a Conservative bill aimed at privatising the NHS.
Even Miliband, a man so hopeless that he cannot handle radio phone-in callers, can keep Cameron on the ropes on it week after week at Prime Minster’s Question because of this.
To give those that fund the Conservative party a handout at the next budget would be a gift for the opposition. Even a party with no coherent strategy, policies that can only be described as Tory-lite (£6000 pa tuition fees instead of £9000; minimum wage workfare instead of just benefits) will limp to victory if the coalition pick now as a time of gifts for the extremely rich while continuing to ignore their core vote.
Ignore this story for now. If it’s true it will only weaken Cameron and Clegg. If you feel really strongly about it then pledge to join the UK Uncut action to embarrass the government on budget day by recreating the iconic unemployment queue image.
Instead keep your focus on the Health and Social Care Bill and lend your support to the campaign to #stopclause136.
We don’t have the time or energy to waste on fighting false fronts based on rumours.