Veteran MP and shadow business secretary Ken Clarke seemed to be on form at the Tory party conference yesterday laying into the government for creating mountains of red tape.
But he said a strange thing, or rather, the strange thing was what he left out of his speech.
Red tape is terrible he said, stifling British industry,he said. And then he added: “The tax code is twice as long and complicated as it was in my day. And British life and British business suffer.”
Aside from the fact that I’m not sure how you measure the suffering caused by red tape in British life, or what the metric is for complexity, it struck me he would then say something about what the Tory government would do about the tax code. But he didn’t.
You could assume that it’sGeorge Osborne’s job, assuming he becomes chancellor, but even his speech yesterday (Tuesday) said little about what the Tories would do to simplify tax matters in the UK. And it needs doing because if there’s anything tax professionals agree on is that the tax system is stretched to breaking point.
Thing is, I get the feeling the Tories are happy to play up the trouble with tax as part of the argument on red tape, but can’t do anything about it for fear of cutting tax revenues which, given the state of public finances, they wouldn’t dare do.
Please Ken don’t build up our hopes only to leave them hanging. If the tax code is too long, tell us what you’re going to do about it.
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