Tory modernisers call for higher taxes

Andrew Grice Political Editor
Monday 11 November 2002 01:00

Tory modernisers have called on Iain Duncan Smith to support tax rises and convince voters that he is committed to improving public services.

Archie Norman, a prominent moderniser and ally of Michael Portillo, said in an interview with The Independent that the Tories should go further than their pledge to put public services before the traditional tax-cutting agenda.

The former Asda chairman and Tunbridge Wells MP said: "The Conservatives have to accept that a competitive country is a country with a competitive transport, education and health infrastructure, that our long-term wealth creation depends on having a great transport system, very educated people to join the workforce and a healthy population." He added: "Investment in those services, if it comes at the expense of temporarily raising taxation, can be a good deal."

But his call will anger traditionalists, who are worried the decision to downgrade tax cuts has blunted their attacks on Labour's tax increases.

Mr Duncan Smith, bruised by last week's Tory rebellion over gay adoption, faces further tension over Labour's plans to repeal Section 28 and give gay people the same rights as married couples through legally registered civil partnerships.

Mr Norman said: "We should be adopting the very conservative idea of equal respect for all people. Just because some may choose to adopt a different lifestyle that doesn't make them a less worthy person when it comes to adoption, rights to benefits, or tax breaks."

Interview, page 13;

Bruce Anderson, page 14

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