Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Following Simon Hughes's criticism of his party's local income tax policy on Sunday, some of his fellow Lib Dem MPs have begun to fight back.
In a story headed Flagship Tax Policy Must Stay, Say Top Lib Dems, the Scotsman reports that the Liberal Democrats will not abandon this policy after all.
Senior Liberal Democrats today insisted it was "inconceivable" their flagship tax policy could be ditched.You should banish from your thoughts any notion that Simon Hughes ever doubted the policy of local income tax.
... they pointed to Mr Kennedy’s recent support for the policy. He said last week the party should not "back off it for one moment".
Local government spokeswoman Sarah Teather told the Press Association: "It is inconceivable we would drop the policy. It was one of our most popular policies in the election and it is a central tenet of our localisation agenda.
"It is very well thought through. The Government has got no answer to the problems of council tax. It is extremely unlikely it will be dropped. I will be fighting for it."
Her comments were underlined by her predecessor Ed Davey, the architect of the policy.
Mr Davey, now the Lib Dems’ education spokesman, said it was a hugely popular policy.
"I think it is a superb policy, as does our leader," he said.
"All the polling evidence shows it is very popular. All the polls in the election campaign showed people thought we had the best policy.
"I don’t want to pre-judge our tax commission. However, my guess is that this is going to be very much retained. This is a very strong policy. All the evidence from our MPs and candidates is that it was extremely popular. It has been in every single one of our manifestos since 1983, it was supported by a Royal Commission and has been passed by successive conferences with an overwhelming majority."
Ms Teather said: "Simon has been one of the biggest champions of local income tax."Got that?