Tom Harris has been wringing his hands over Labour's tax policy today. What is particularly concerning him is the kneejerk stance of some in his party to call for envy-led taxes on the rich.
The logic seems to be this: Labour’s eschewing of traditional Labour tax-and-spend policies has led to the current disparity between the lowest and the highest paid; soaking the rich would therefore, of itself, make Labour popular enough to win a fourth general election as well as narrowing the incomes gap.
Tom quite rightly argues that this is a truly facile argument. His party are quite simply not going to stem the flooding dyke of escaping Labour voters by sticking their 'soak the rich' finger in the massive bus-sized hole. He also argues, correctly, that such a policy won't earn the exchequor any significant increase in funds.
However, he does seem to suggest that a sensible tax policy, targeted at reducing 'income inequality', would make the massive impact which is required to avoid electoral carnage in 2010.
To his credit, Tom is usually refreshingly different to many Labour MPs but, with this thinking, he is showing himself to be identical to 100% of the current crop in simply not understanding the average working man. Either that or Labour, in their mid-90s and beyond thrust for middle class votes, have completely forgotten how to court the working man, or don't believe such votes are relevant anymore.
Those who were formerly termed 'working class' see the fuss over the budget each year and wonder why it takes some guy in a suit over an hour to tell them their beer is going to cost 10p more and their fags 20p. If they drive, they might moan about an extra 2p on a litre of fuel for their van, too. When they buy their copy of The Sun the next day, they will see that a Labour government has made them £1.25 per week better off, and joke about what a waste of time it all is seeing as they earned £60 at Laddies on the 2:30 at Sandown the previous Saturday.
Middle classes worry about marginal levels of tax. Working men don't. They hate all tax, as they are proud of their toil (just tell one you work in an office and listen to the tales of early mornings for decades, and working fingers to the bone etc) and don't like having their wages reduced. However, although they can tell you the ins and outs, and expected returns, of an each way Yankee at various odds, they have no clue as to the machinations of the tax system - I know this as I pay a whole load of them.
What they do worry about is what they can do with the money they are proud of earning, and the state of the country in which they spend it. And the simple fact is that Labour have destroyed every aspect of that to a quite frightening degree. Working families that I know have been in the same house, same job, with the same friends, for decades. They eat the same food on weekends, they go to the same places on nights out, meeting the same people, and often have the same conversations they have had for years.
Labour have not only inveigled their way into every part of this meagre but happy lifestyle, they have significantly, and spitefully, ruined it.
They are told they are drinking too much, so they have to change or they will pay a lot more. Their early-evening couple of pints on the way home/karaoke nights haven't been fun since 2007 when the atmosphere was ripped away by the smoking ban, forcing everyone outside. As a result, people stopped going, and the pub/club where they felt they belonged has shut down. They are told that they are irresponsible for eating what they like to eat. They are told that they should be 'multi-cultural' when Labour have allowed hundreds of thousands of EU workers to devalue, or eradicate entirely, the work they do. So much so that whatever putative taxes they are charged pale into insignificance when compared with their loss of real, tangible income.
Labour did all this, and much, much more. Consider comments such as these on the BBC site today appended to an article about Greggs, a highly successful, and growing, brand on the back of mainly working class custom.
In my opinion the amount of saturated fat contained in these products goes no way to promoting 'healthy eating.' As is quoted it supplies "a huge chunk of blokes who want lots of food cheaply."
Norman Wint, Taunton/Gloucester
Greggs is the McDonald's of bakeries. Terrible food sold on the cheap to conquer the masses. This country really needs to improve quality of breads e.g. more sourdough etc and less of the high sugar breads on sale at moment.
Just another variant on the unhealthy fast-food fad. Their products are riddled with saturated fats, salt and sugar.
Dr Ian Sedwell, Weymouth, United Kingdom
Such condescending views are now commonplace since Labour re-badged the choices of working people as not just 'undesirable' but also, thanks to the incessant hectoring of Labour-paid fake charities and quangoes, abhorrent and a drain on society.
They are 'racist' if they complain about the influx of foreign workers affecting their income. They don't enjoy a cigarette anymore, they are filthy smokers. They don't enjoy a drink anymore, they are irresponsible drunks and a cost to the NHS. Their favoured food and lifestyle can be ridiculed at will by holier-than-thou types with the full backing of a Labour party who continue to actively encourage them.
So, not only have the unassuming lives of the Labour core vote been ripped apart in the past few years, but they are simultaneously being humiliated and insulted for simply going about their daily routine exactly as their families have for generations.
A massive tranche of the population, who have always been proud of being the backbone of the country, being told, in no uncertain terms, that their lives are a disgrace and their efforts unworthy because they live life in an unapproved manner, are not going to be seduced by a few quid back on tax. It just won't wash.
They will remember that this didn't happen under the Tories. Labour did it. And you can bet quite a tidy sum that they know who to blame (you know it's bad when even Tony Benn is coming out against Labour).
Labour MPs can agonise all they like about income inequality, and even try to adjust it via the tax system, but it won't make any inroads into their disastrous poll results until they rectify the problems that their assault on the working man and civil liberties, in the guise of tackling 'health inequalities', have caused.
And unless they do, Labour will be out of power for a generation or more, because working people will be doing the same jobs (if they still have one), visiting the same places (if they are still open), with the same friends, and telling the same stories about how Labour screwed up their way of life, for a very long time.
UPDATE: And if you do wield some power in appealing to the working man. Say, with a newspaper column or something, your article is pulled.
Sorry, Tom, but working people hate you and everything your party have done. They ain't going to be bought off that easily.