The Times reports that Lord Jacobs has quit the party to sit as a crossbencher on the grounds that the party’s position on tax does not include tax cuts for the rich, paid for (if Lord Rennard is to be believed) by a 6p hike in NIC. Despite Sam Coates’ best attempts to dress this story up into another typical Times piece of donor porn (I was half-expecting the piece to start going on about the quality of the soft-furnishings in his central London home and to coo erotically over the prospect of him owning a yacht), it hardly looks damaging for the party. Old man in a hurry throws toys out of pram. Shrug.
It is easy to rush to attack someone who is leaving, but I think this is a bit churlish. Lord Jacobs has worked very hard for the party over the past twenty years, in financial and other ways. He is not someone who turned up, donated Â£100k one day and became a Lord the next without understanding or supporting our principles. When someone that committed leaves the sensible thing is to sit them down and talk to them. Because who knows, they may be representative of a chunk of the party.
Except that, um, no-one was attacking him. Later still, Oranjepan quipped:
â€œâ€¦Jacobs his obviously flounced off in a huffâ€¦â€
Oh dear, I donâ€™t think anyone could seriously believe that (I mean seriously!).
For someone who has been around our party (and forebears) for so long he is clearly aware of our role in the process and pragmatic enough not to have walked away during more contentious times.
Jacobs clearly sees some other merit in these actions as he is still overtly supportive, so I think it will be interesting to see whether he continues to be a donor to the partyâ€¦ wheels with wheelsâ€¦
My feeling is that he has deliberately isolated himself in order to open up a debate on this issues. If the Fabians and others are coming out in favour of Cleggâ€™s leadership then these manoeuvers demonstrate clear political dexterity and a full awareness of how opinion is formed.
At age 77 such a principled gambit should be applauded and it shows he has both the nous and the cojones to make one more throw of the dice.
I genuinely don’t understand this. Cutting personal taxes by raising employer NIC is not a tax cut at all. To use Osborne-esque rhetoric, it is a tax con. It would massively increase the cost of employing people. Those who weren’t made redundant as a result of the hike would find their wages suppressed over the medium term and find themselves no better off over the longer term. And what is this to pay for? A tax cut for the pensions of the wealthy.
I can understand why an old school Tory would be attracted to such an idea – as I said before they aren’t the free marketeers they are often portrayed as – but why would an economic liberal be attracted to it?
It does seem, superficially at least, that they got drawn in by the Times (and Jacobs’ own) spin about tax cuts and thought they would portray him as some kind of martyr of the right. The enemies’ enemy is my friend, and all that. It is quite curious and generally surprising. I look forward to seeing if this is the start of a discernable pattern with interest.