ASK anyone to name Britain’s greatest Prime Minister and they’ll probably tell you it was Winston Churchill for his inspired wartime leadership.
Another contender might be Margaret Thatcher, who saw off critics on all sides in the 1980s to reawaken the economy after a decade of strikes and stagnation.
However, Winston edges it not just on the battlefront, but on the economic front. It’s a remarkable fact that of all administrations in the past 70 years, it was Churchill’s post-war government that cut taxes the most.
They were effective too, with living standards surging in the 1950s under his and his Conservative successors’ command.
Today, Churchill’s example sends a vitally important message to Boris Johnson, his biographer and great admirer … swift and decisive tax cuts now will boost the recovery by giving us the investment we desperately need.
For economic recovery from Covid is just as important as tackling the crisis itself.
Tax rises aren’t, and shouldn’t be, the only option to undo the crippling economic damage of multiple lockdowns. Especially as the Taxpayers’ Alliance has found that the tax burden is higher now than during the chaotic Labour administrations of the 1970s and the winter of discontent, thankfully reversed by Thatcher’s cuts.
In fact, the average burden is the highest it has been since our recovery from the Second World War 70 years ago. And with the Budget in our sights, any tax increases will only see that number rise.
But is that any wonder, given the increasing spending demands that politicians are placing on the public purse? Ever more money has become the default policy option for all sides. MPs are now even calling for the trial of universal basic income (aka benefits payments for all) to aid the recovery.
Even its most diehard supporters acknowledge that this is a policy which could only be paid off by putting up tax, and plunging hundreds of thousands more into paying it. It won’t be long before the overwhelming majority are sucked into the ever-growing, ever-hungry welfare system.
The furlough scheme, despite sadly being necessary in the terrible circumstances of ministers shutting down the economy, has led millions of us to become state-dependent.
Universal credit and free school meal extensions will soon become too difficult to take away, with a proposed hike in fuel duty to cover the cost.
If we do not cut taxes now to recover from the deepest recession since records began, the only alternative to try to climb out of the financial black hole will be disastrous increases.
Once Covid is under control and we’ve got our freedom back, the only lockdown policy Johnson should consider is pinning tax rates at a lower level. Instead of propelling the country into more punishment, the current breed of spendthrift Tories should take a history lesson and look to their 20th century predecessors.
Britons are crying out for a respite from tax rises to ease the burden on hard-pressed families and businesses during the toughest period they’re likely to ever face.
It might even repair some of the cracks now appearing in the ‘blue wall’ of former Labour-supporting northern constituencies whose voters switched to the Tories in the 2020 election. Six in ten working-class voters say they want to see the basic rate of income tax reduced to 15p in the pound.
To get us out of this crisis, Johnson would do well to remember what the wise Winston once said: ‘For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.’