Letter: Labour's challenge: to win power and keep faith with the poor

Talk of taxes
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The Independent Online
Sir: I well remember an article by Gavyn Davies published in the Independent a couple of months before the last election. Somewhat against the tide of newspaper opinion, he provided a list of solid reasons to back the sensible intuition that victory for the Conservative Party was still by far the most probable outcome.

In his article on 22 April he provided even stronger reasons to believe that the next election is Labour's for the taking. However, he noted that loose talk on tax might still produce a shock defeat. Is this likely?

There are at least two good reasons to believe that the tax issue will be neutralised at the next election. First, unlike 1992, there will be no silly Shadow Budget before the election and hence no concrete proposals for the Tories to attack. Second, Conservative Party propaganda on tax has lost credibility following the 1993 tax-raising Budget. In particular voters seem more sensitive to the shift that has occurred away from direct to indirect taxation - an awareness aided by the furore over VAT on fuel.

Of course ill-disciplined public remarks would be unwise. But with such a tangible electoral advantage for Labour, surely Gavyn Davies overplays the risks.

James Knight

St John's College

Oxford

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