Link: PROFILE: Michael Howard
Addressing the Conservative party conference in Blackpool he said the extra revenue raised had been wasted.
‘Sixty tax rises but one-in-three children leaving primary school unable to read or write. Sixty tax rises but a crime committed every five seconds. Sixty tax rises but almost one million people on NHS waiting lists,’ Howard said.
Although he promised tax cuts if he became chancellor, he did not give details of which taxes he would cut or by how much, despite pressure from activists and fellow shadow cabinet minister David Davis – a former chairman of the House of Commons public accounts committee – for a more definite and detailed commitment.
The shadow chancellor said Labour’s tax rises had hit families, businesses, IT companies and jobs.
Brown’s promise to boost investment had also proved hollow, said Howard, who added that since 1997 it had seen the biggest fall in a decade.
But John Bercow, who resigned from the Tories’ frontbench last November, rubbished the party’s renewed commitment to cutting taxes.
He said talking about reducing the tax burden when public services needed extra investment was misguided.
Bercow said that there was ‘no political merit’ in talking generally about being a lower tax government, and questioned the party’s flagship promise to scrap tuition fees.
He added that there had been a much-justified perception that the Tories were rural, provincial and ‘somewhat prissy’.
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