Sunday, January 17, 2010

Labour's plan to hike council tax

Labour has been caught red-handed preparing for a council tax revaluation scheduled for after the general election. They are advertising for a £2m contract to implement the scheme, which would see council taxpayers across the country fleeced.

Caroline Spelman MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government said:
"This is a tax bombshell – primed to go off after the general election, hitting families and pensioners with soaring council tax bills".

"Labour’s class war politics is all about punishing those who have saved and worked hard with even higher taxes", she said. "This Big Brother contract is yet another sign of how Labour Ministers have no respect for people’s privacy and how they want to snoop inside your home".
The Conservatives would stop the revaluation and, furthermore, abolish council tax inspectors’ rights of entry into our homes.

Is there no limit to how underhand and cynical this government is prepared to be? Only Nick Hillman can help in Cambridge to kick out this deceitful government. The Lib Dems are ideologically close to Labour and their activists tend to side with them (despite the image they try to give out in selected areas to get Tory votes) so they are no use.


Martin said...

I don't get the campaign against revaluation. Isn't there an argument for updating housing values from 1991, which are completely different now? Judging council tax against the situation 19 years ago seems completely barmy!

Surely if the total tax amount being taken were calculated, then new valuations were added up to equal the same amount (i.e. no overall change in tax, just sensible benchmarks that reflect reality now), that would lead to a more sane and fair apportionment of council tax?

Phil Rodgers said...

I wonder what your basis is for saying that Lib Dem activists tend to side with Labour? That certainly isn't my impression of Cambridge politics. And the last time the City Council was in no overall control, it was run by a Labour-Conservative coalition!

Chris Howell said...


It is fairly obvious that Lib Dems are idealogically closer to Labour - both are left of centre parties who would like to see a very high level of the nation's financial resources controlled by government rather than the people who created the wealth.

For evidence, how about:

"Liberal Democrat activists would overwhelmingly prefer their party to enter a coalition government with Labour rather than the Tories, according to a poll published today."

The practical problem for voters in Cambridge is that the choice of next prime minister is between David Cameron and Gordon Brown, and unless your new parliamentary candidate is promising that in the event of him being a Lib Dem MP in a hung parliament he will support David Cameron as Prime Minister, then voters will know that if they want to maximise the chances of getting rid of Gordon Brown and start fixing the catastrophe that is public sector finances, their only option is to vote Conservative in Cambridge.

Phil Rodgers said...


I don't think that ComRes poll is a particularly good guide, given its choice of wording. In any case, 31% is hardly "overwhelming". See

for details of a survey of Lib Dem members who were asked: If the result of the next general election is that the Lib Dems hold the balance of power in a ‘hung parliament’, what do you think should be the party’s response if Labour/Conservatives offer some form of deal which includes the promise of a referendum on electoral reform?

The results were:

25% – Steer well clear of any form of negotiations or coalition with Labour or Conservatives
5% – Be ready to negotiate only with Labour on that basis
6% – Be ready to negotiate only with the Conservatives on that basis
61% – Be equally ready to negotiate with either Labour or the Conservatives on that basis
3% – Don’t know / No opinion

In any case, don't you think this left/right business is just a touch, well, 20th century? The liberal/authoritarian dimension is increasingly important for many issues. A major reason that I want to see the present government kicked out is the relentless way they keep chipping away at civil liberties.

The practical problem for Conservative voters in Cambridge is that at the last election the Conservatives came a distant third, with only 16% of the vote, against 44% for the Lib Dems and 34% for Labour, and your chances of winning the seat are approximately the same as those of Richard Dawkins being elected Pope. Voting Conservative rather than Lib Dem here is just going to make it easier for Labour to win, and increase their chances of clinging on to power.

Andrew Bower said...


Did you see this poll which showed a clear preference by Lib Dem Voice readers for Gordon Brown as Prime Minister?

OK, so it's not scientific, but from an anecdotal angle I have to say that the offensive and spiteful remarks I almost always hear when sitting next to a Lib Dem teller leave me in no doubt which way Lib Dem activists lean.

And there's plenty of evidence from the council chamber etc. of the Lib Dems' tendency towards socialism - Cllr Reid declaring how excellent tax is. And I certainly get the impression that the rank and file love the extreme redistributionist policies: mansion tax, 50% tax rates (back in the boom times), "an extra penny on income tax to solve everything" (ok, maybe not extreme but it shows where they think problems to solutions lie). Then there's banker bashing and Saint (not really so prescient) Vince's suspiciously enthusiastic calls to nationalise as many banks as possible.

The trouble with trying to change the positioning to a liberal/authoritarian axis is that you are trying to get off the hook for the fact that left-wing economic policies are inevitably authoritarian (see Hayek).

Martin said...

I agree with Phil Rodgers:

I have seen Committee meetings where, time and time again, if the Lib Dems do one thing, Labour vote the other way (or usually, not vote at all, so as not to be held accountable).

And if Labour do one thing, the Lib Dems vote the other way.

Andrew Bower said...

Pasting from the LDV poll:

"In the event of Nick Clegg not forming a government after the next election, who do you *least want* to be Prime Minister in a year’s time?"

Gordon Brown: 42% (468 votes)
David Cameron: 58% (638 votes)


Of course I meant to say "solutions to problems" not the other way round!

And on your point about our electoral performance, you will be well aware of our improved performance over local elections since the last general election and that we came second in the elections to the European Parliament within the Cambridge constituency in June 2009. That makes us the challengers to you, not Labour.

You shouldn't believe your own propaganda! :-)

Vote Yellow Get Brown!

Phil Rodgers said...


Thanks for your replies. I'm sorry you've heard offensive remarks from Lib Dem tellers; my experience has always been that tellers of different parties get on pretty well (well, almost always - there was one very tedious Green teller many years ago, but that's the only one I can think of), and I've had some really interesting conversations with people from other parties during some of my slower telling sessions.

On your electoral position, I would point out that your most recent local election performance resulted in you winning no seats at all in Cambridge in the last council elections - not entirely compelling evidence of a strong Conservative resurgence. Of course we can go on arguing about this for months, and I'm sure we will.

I really don't think it's fair, or (perhaps more importantly) accurate to characterise the Lib Dems as tending "towards socialism", though maybe we seem so from Hayek's viewpoint - but wouldn't he describe current British Conservative policy in the same way? Anyway, I'll add The Road to Serfdom to my reading list; perhaps I'll undergo a Damascene conversion.

Just to agree with you about something, I do think that there are vastly too many powers for public officials and others to enter peoples homes without permission, and I would certainly like to see this changed. I read some very interesting research about this a while back, though I can't find a link for it just at the moment.

Finally, I wonder if you have any comment on Martin's original point (which has been neglected in all this political mud-slinging) that revaluation would have the effect of raising the same amount of money in a fairer way, rather than being a stealth tax rise?

Andrew Bower said...

Hi Phil,

Firstly, all the Lib Dem tellers I have sat next to have been civilised and most friendly, so perhaps 'spiteful' is going a bit far. But they don't seem to see any problem with blaming all society's ill's on Margaret Thatcher and expect me to agree that, in effect, we are the nasty party.

It would be a bit like me saying that because Labour have failed so badly with social mobility that they hate the poor, which would be nonsense.

To be fair, elected representatives seem less likely to be like this.

As for Martin's point, surely it depends on what the ground rules for revaluation are?

The claim for the revaluation in Wales is that a third of homes went up a band and only 8% down, but I have to admit I can't find much more than that, except a claim that a higher band was introduced, which depending on how it was introduced could increase the total take.

NickW said...

I think it's fairly likely that the Conservatives will win the next general election. However lets not kid ourselves that this would defer tax rises even with major cuts in public spending.

A new government will have to deal with the legacy of Labours 13 year crusade to destroy the economy of the UK. We still have the outstanding bill for the biggest heist in History - known as quantitative easing and the bailing out of businesses built on institutional fraud that should have been allowed to go bust (banks).

Every Labour Government ends in national bankruptcy /running to the IMF / default on Sovereign debt obligations. It's just natures way.

Martin said...

Glad to see a response to my points rather than continued dwelling on party politics.

"As for Martin's point, surely it depends on what the ground rules for revaluation are?"

Well, yes, exactly.

So on what basis is the article written? No evidence seems to be given that the current proposals will actually lead to an overall increase in tax take, rather than a rebalancing. Can you clarify what point the article is actually trying to make, beyond a party political one?

Andrew Bower said...


Although the obvious way of bringing in revaluation, and indeed the way it appears in fact to be done, would be revenue neutral, it did seem to be the case that revaluation in Wales had resulted in large hikes. It appears, however, that this was actually the result of a stealth tax rise by the authorities concerned, masked by the concurrent revaluation.

However, there does seem to have been a problem in that many people found crippling increased in their particular council tax payments, so much so that an alleviating payment had to be provided by the government to ease the transition.

As Phil quite rightly says, of course, the intrusive nature of the revaluation - one of the thousand powers to enter your home - is a pernicious aspect of this process.

Part of the problem is that I don't think Labour have been open about this process.

There's a helpful paper on the subject from the House of Commons Library