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Nick Clegg drags the Tories "kicking and screaming" in tax talks

March 4, 2014 12:32 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg has lamented the Tories' inconsistency and hostility towards raising the income tax threshold.

Following his speech at the Royal United Services Institute this morning, Clegg was asked about the progress of talks with the Conservatives about raising the tax threshold in the next Budget.

Clegg told journalists:

"I've been long of the view that if you want to judge a party's commitment to fairer taxes, then one of the absolute ingredients that you need to look for is consistency over time. I've been saying the same thing for well over half a decade now, which is that we need to target all our tax cuts at those on low and middle incomes, by raising the allowance. And it was a Liberal Democrat manifesto promise on the front page of our manifesto which will finally find its way into the pay packets of millions of people next month by raising the allowance to £10,000. I've said I want the allowance to go even further up. I want a further worker's bonus in the next budget so that the allowance is set at £10,500.

"I - how can I - I'll try and be polite on this. My Coalition partners, by contrast, have been spectacularly inconsistent. Beginning of the Parliament they were first going on about inheritance tax cuts for millionaires. Then they wanted to fiddle around with the upper rate of income tax. Then they wanted to fiddle around with the taxes for married couples. Then they wanted to fiddle around with taxes to give incentives to people to give up their employment rights to take up shares.

"So they've got a fair amount of brass neck to now claim that somehow all they ever wanted all along was to see the allowance go up, because that's not what they said in public, and crucially, it's not what - actually what they said in private, either. I've had to drag the Conservative party, kicking and screaming, in every single budget negotiation. By the way, not least recently when I talked about wanting to see this extra workers' bonus, there was a very hostile reaction behind closed doors in Whitehall for my Conservative Coalition partners.

"So, look; I'm delighted everybody is now scrambling to - to share authorship of a Liberal Democrat idea, but I would just ask for my coalition partners, indeed, anybody else, just to be consistent in what you say in public and what you say in private, and also consistent in what you say over a long period of time on tax."

To find out more about Lib Dem tax cuts, click here.