Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

On The Conservatives’ Bank Levy

Someone less loyal to the Conservative leadership might have wept yesterday morning when they heard that the party was now supporting a bank levy regardless of whether other major economies introduced it.

They might have scratched their head and wondered why it mattered so much that some other countries – the USA most notably, for example – were now going to introduce such a measure that we had to declare that we would do it unilaterally. The justification for the change in tack seemed to immediately negate the change from multilateral to unilateral introduction of the levy.

They might have watched the Andrew Marr show this morning and sympathised with Phillip Hammond, who only weeks ago was following the more sensible line that any such tax would only be workable if everyone did it. They would have seen Hammond having to perform logical contortions to try to fit in with this weekend’s policy.

Someone so less loyal to David Cameron and George Osborne might have gulped as they realised that, on this issue at least, the current disaster of a Labour chancellor was actually demonstrating more economic literacy then his own party’s leader and shadow chancellor when he stuck to the multilateral line.

They might also have baulked at the citing of Margaret Thatcher’s legacy, and then rolled their eyes at the mention of President Obama, reflecting that just because an increasingly unpopular left-wing administration in another country seems bent on destroying the competitiveness of their financial sector, doesn’t make it OK for a future Conservative government to do so here.

Finally, that disappointed Conservative member might be reflecting that whereas a true Conservative would see an international move towards a bank levy / Tobin Tax / Robin Hood Tax as an opportunity to boost the City of London’s competitiveness by not imposing the levy, a socialist would see also see it as an opportunity – to introduce a new tax, something that is in their, not the Conservative, DNA (to borrow a Cameron phrase).

Me? Oh, I was just annoyed at the current fad of having David Cameron speaking to a backdrop of fidgeting, gurning (but carefully selected) party members which distracted from what he was saying to such an extent that I had to watch it all over again. (I had an invitation to attend that very event, but thought I would spare the nation the horror of looking at me over their elevenses). Surely Cameron could have made the speech in a traditional news conference setting, without corralling all those party members – candidates among them – who should have spent the Saturday morning campaigning?

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