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Jill Kirby: First win hearts and minds. Then win elections

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Politicians must win the battle of ideas, and the Conservatives are at last making progress in tax and welfare debates

Has George Osborne finally decided that Conservatives can win the battle of ideas? The Chancellor’s new-found confidence, derived from a well-received budget and a growing economy, seems to be inspiring him to seek a change in the terms of debate.

Given the importance of positive language in winning hearts and minds, this could be a crucial turning point. On Monday he appeared to lay to rest a negative description of tax cuts that for many years pervaded every speech he made on the subject.

The pejorative phrase “unfunded tax cuts” entered the political lexicon back in 2006, when Gordon Brown used it to slap down Blairites on the Labour benches. It was swiftly adopted by Mr Osborne, then shadow chancellor, who deployed it at regular intervals to dampen expectations that he would cut taxes.

Notably, he used it to rebuff his own Tax Reform Commission’s proposals for increases in the personal allowance, asserting that he would (like Mr Brown) put “stability” ahead of reductions in tax — as if the two were mutually exclusive.

Read Jill Kirby’s article for The Times in full by clicking here.

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Jill Kirbyhttp://www.jillkirby.org/
Jill Kirby is a freelance writer, commentator and policy analyst specialising in social policy

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