Kennedy drops plan to squeeze high-earners
In a speech setting out his strategy, the Liberal Democrat leader said: "We do not need and we should not seek a punitive taxation system. High taxes are not a moral good in themselves." Although his party was not afraid to use the word "redistribution," he added: "We should feel no awkwardness about the use of the word profit either."
His Westminster speech, which comes as a Liberal Democrat commission starts to review tax policy, is a signal that he does not want to position his party to the left of Labour and allow its opponents to brand it a "high- tax" party.
Some Liberal Democrats believe their pledge to raise the top rate of tax may have cost it votes at the general election in May, when Labour pledged not to raise income tax rates and the Tories offered £4bn of tax cuts.
Mr Kennedy said: "We were correct to point out at the general election that only 1 per cent of all taxpayers would be affected by our proposals on top-rate taxation. But we must not lose sight of those who aspire to achieve income levels which will bring them into the top-rate taxation band in time to come. So we should not fall into the trap of believing that through taxation and spending we can cure all ills."
He tried to silence a whispering campaign against his leadership by saying that "positive unity" was "critical" for the party. He gave a nod to critics who have urged him to be more bold by agreeing the party needed to take risks.
"There is no way forward if we opt for the easy life, heads kept securely safe below the parapet," he said. "If we're not prepared to live a little dangerously at times, then the far greater danger is that we just don't live at all."
The party needed to "avoid complacency" and be "a dynamic, forward-looking and progressive force in politics". He added: "Twenty-first century Liberalism has to be about more than the politics of protests or the need for principled positions within politics. It has to be about presenting ourselves as credible contenders for power, not just for its own sake, but because of what we want to do with it as we gain more."
Mr Kennedy said that his party needed "a better-developed account of ourselves and a prescriptive analysis of our country". He added: "We need a more holistic picture, which brings together better in people's minds how our various individual policies both relate to each other and add up overall." After criticism that the party did not have distinctive policies on public services, Mr Kennedy acknowledged there was a need to "develop credible, alternative proposals to the changes that Labour is making in the structure and delivery of our public services, particularly in health and education." It would face more tough choices on spending, he said.
He asked the tax commission to make proposals to strip away complicated allowances and create a simpler, fairer structure of taxation with measures to tackle avoidance and evasion. Mr Kennedy has asked Mark Oaten, the home affairs spokesman, and Ed Davey, the education spokesman, for "innovative ideas" on how to stop young people becoming disaffected and showing no "respect". They will look at "the interface between school and society and those important years when children move into adulthood".
- 1 Crystal meth addict 'gouged out his eyes and ate them' while high on drug, Australian MP claims
- 2 As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
- 3 The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
- 4 Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
- 5 Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
JK Rowling horrified by Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis's raunchy photoshoot
Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
Irish people are travelling home from all over the world so they can vote to legalise gay marriage
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...