Twenty or so Labour MPs look set to break the party whip by voting against the increases to tax thresholds contained in Philip Hammond’s budget. Labour plans to abstain on the vote in order not to prevent those on low incomes receiving a much-needed, if inadequate, boost.
As the SKWAWKBOX showed yesterday, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell indicated Labour would not block the tax threshold rise because lowering taxes for low- and middle-earners principles is entirely in line with Labour’s policies and principles – and the party in opposition can only block or support what the government has put on the table.
But the so-called rebels’ posturing is also a slap in the face for the millions who voted Labour in 2017 – and the millions struggling to get by in the Tories’ low-wage economy – because reducing the tax burden was the third most popular budget measure among Labour voters, according to polling this week:
Corbyn’s and McDonnell’s plan to abstain allows the plan to go through and benefit people who really need the extra income and avoids the political/propaganda trap laid by the Tories – who were hoping Labour would try to block it and could be painted as against ‘hard-working people’ – while also avoiding the almost as dangerous pitfall of actively supporting a Tory budget that does huge amounts for business and the wealthy in other ways. It’s the politically-intelligent response.
The mainstream media will – of course – portray their behaviour differently. But the ‘rebels’, by contrast, are grandstanding their way straight into that pit and hurt the people who most need their help, against the wishes of the vast majority of people who support the Labour Party.
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