Ed Balls – from Green Tax Crusader to Jeremy ClarksonPosted on March 3, 2011
Ed Balls has evidently decided that hammering the Coalition on rising fuel duty and the double-tax on fuel through VAT is the right way to go. Politically, it’s a clever choice – the levels of tax faced by motorists are punitively high, it does harm the economy and it means ordinary taxpayers are often punished for making essential trips to work or to the shops – particularly in rural areas.
Essentially, he is shifting – at least partially – into TaxPayers’ Alliance messaging, casting himself as being on the side of the strivers, the strugglers and the just-getting-by. Heck, he even confessed this morning that maybe the previous Government might have wasted some money, an acknowledgement that seems obvious to the rest of us but is a groundshaking revelation when it comes from Balls.
As well as being political good sense, this is also part of a growing decontamination strategy that Labour are pursuing to shed the negative associations of the stealth taxes and squandered billions of 1997-2010.
The question with any decontamination strategy is “Will it work?”
With Ed Balls, you’ve got to wonder if even his powers of self-delusion will succeed this time. Today, he is an opponent for economic and moral reasons of hammering motorists. In his pomp helping to present and defend the Budget back in 2007, though, he was boasting about the ethical worthiness of, erm, hammering motorists:
That is exactly what we have been doing over the past 10 years with action to shift the tax burden from “goods” to “bads”, and with the work that we have done to support and, indeed, to pioneer international emissions control and trading. In the Budget, we have set out further actions to advance the environment agenda, including…a fuel duty increase of more than inflation
Is it really believable that the Ed Balls who spent a decade squeezing and squeezing motorists until the pips squeaked because driving was “bad” has now seen sense and is fighting on the motorists’ side? It’s about as plausible as Jeremy Clarkson being elected as the next leader of the Green Party.