Is this responsible opposition? A Tory source points out that Labour would have almost certainly have done the same thing – or at least considered it very strongly.
It is true that an initial plan by Alistair Darling to lift VAT was over-ruled by Gordon Brown in favour of increasing national insurance. But quotes from the election campaign make clear that the option was kept open.
* Darling was quoted saying that ruling out a VAT rise would have been ‘absolutely daft‘ (The Daily Telegraph, 13 April 2010).
* Gordon Brown refused to rule out a VAT rise during the election. ‘We’ve never actually made any promise about the VAT rate. But I can give you an absolute assurance that we have not raised VAT since 1997‘ (The Daily Telegraph, 13 April 2010).
* During the election campaign Alistair Darling said ruling out VAT rise would be ‘ludicrous’ and ‘daft’. When asked about it during the chancellors’ TV debate he said: ‘no Chancellor or would-be Chancellor is ever going to say they’re not ever going to change tax rates over the next five, ten years. That would be a ludicrous position to get in to‘ (Chancellor’s Debate, Channel 4, 29 March 2010).