James Coney  

Election 2019: Dull manifesto or major tax overhaul?

James Coney

James Coney

Are we nearly there yet?

The trouble with a long election campaign is that you can think you have heard all the policies before they are actually announced, like when the same songs play on the radio the second time round.

Plus, you think you are close to the final destination, when actually you are just over halfway.

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It also gives you a chance to run a few ideas up the flagpole without having the embarrassment of having them in a manifesto if they turn out to be badly received.

That explains why both the parties waited until a week ago before properly launching their costed proposals.

I suppose we should all be thankful for the dullness of the Conservative party manifesto.

There was almost nothing on pensions, nothing on income tax, with the only major taxation pledge coming with a giveaway on national insurance where they plan to raise the threshold to £9,500 and then equal to income tax.

That is to be welcomed, though a more cynical observer may suggest that once income tax and national insurance contributions are fully aligned, this is just one step away from merging them, as the Office for Tax Simplification has already proposed. 

Actually there was a notable exemption from the Tory manifesto and that was its idea that the mortgage affordability calculations at the banks should be loosened to allow more first-time buyers on the ladder.

The initial suggestion was dropped from the final document, after being met with a sceptical reception.

That tells you the direction of travel with the Conservatives, though.

Anyway, in case you have not noticed, the Tories want to “get Brexit done”, so the fewer distractions with actual policies the better.

I suppose we should all be thankful for the absence of tinkering.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of the Labour party manifesto with its all-out assault on private investment.

First we have the nationalisation of major industries, such as telecoms and power, which would strip assets from pension funds and private shareholders.

Then came the double-whammy with the integration of dividends and capital gains into the income tax system – not only raising the taxation to level with someone’s marginal rate, but also effectively scrapping annual allowances.

Then there is the proposal for a new financial transaction tax on investment companies.

The sums all add up to about £24bn, which is all going to come out of pockets of investors.

Labour seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding of who these people are.

They think sports cars, Canary Wharf, sharp suits and cocaine-fuelled parties. Actually, they are probably wearing cardigans, driving a second-hand Volvo and watching Homes Under the Hammer.