PM And Clegg In Tax Cuts Hypocrisy Row
Nick Clegg accused the Tories of having a "brass-neck" as the Prime Minister gave a speech hinting at tax cuts for hard-pressed families.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the Tories had been "spectacularly inconsistent" when it came to having a "commitment to fairer taxes" and had to be "dragged kicking and screaming" in Budget negotiations.
Mr Cameron used a speech in the Midlands on Tuesday to claim that as a result of the austerity measures the Government could now "give money back".
He said it would be "a bit of extra cash that can help a dad afford those trainers for his son or help a mum celebrate her daughter's birthday with a meal out", adding: "Having more money in our pockets is what gives everyone that sense of financial security and peace of mind. It's what enables us to provide for our families and feel more confident about the future."
Coming two weeks before the Budget it is expected this will mean the Chancellor will announce a rise in the personal allowance - the amount people can earn before tax kicks in - to above £10,000.
Mr Clegg reacted furiously to news of the speech, claiming that the Tories were attempting to position themselves to take the credit for what was a Lib Dem policy and manifesto pledge that would be a £100 bonus for workers.
In a speech in Westminster, he said: "I'll try and be polite on this: my coalition partners, by contrast, have been spectacularly inconsistent. At the 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 employment rights to take up shares.
"So they have 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 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 from my Conservative coalition partners.
"So I'm delighted that everybody is now scrambling to share authorship of a Liberal Democrat idea but I would just ask for my coalition partners, indeed anybody else, to be consistent in what you say in public and what you say in private and also consistent on what you say over a long period of time on tax."
Senior Conservatives have been encouraging the Chancellor to raise the 40p income tax rate threshold to £44,000, from £41,451, so it eases the burden on middle class voters.
Responding to Mr Cameron's speech, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie said: "David Cameron has revealed his true values by the choices he has made.
"He's chosen to give the top 1% of earners a £3bn tax cut while everyone else is worse off.
"Working people have seen their wages fall in real terms by over £1,600 a year on average under David Cameron's Government. Tax and benefit changes since 2010 have also left families £891 a year worse off."
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