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The working families tax credit cap: Has Osborne “strapped himself to a Gordon Brown booby trap”?

December 12th, 2012

In an interesting move overnight Labour has published HMRC data showing the precise number of working families in key CON-held marginals who will be affected by the Chancellor’s announcement a week ago that a cap is to be put on tax credit increases for the next three years.

This will be voted on in the Commons and Osborne has challenged Labour to vote against the move in what looks set to be a general election issue.

    The Tory approach is said to be driven by focus group data that suggests that voters who deserted Labour in 2010 believed the last government was soft on benefit claimants.

    But there is a big difference between those who are claimants and those working who receive tax credits.

By linking the move to the number of such families who will be affected in key CON-held marginals Labour is seeking to make this into local story in dozens of constituencies across the country. This is a good taster of how its general campaign will play out.

For ultimately this is a PR battle over quite complex issues. I’m yet to be convinced that either Labour or the Tories have the communications fire-power to get their positions over effecitvely.

The Tories and Labour need politicians more plausible and voter friendly than either George Osborne or Ed Balls.

Mike Smithson

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