As my colleague Samira Shackle notes elsewhere, Nick Clegg’s media double-whammy this morning did little to move on the story of possible post-election deal-making.
In neither his appearance on Radio 4’s Today programme nor his authored piece in the Times did the Liberal Democrat leader choose to be any clearer on which way he would jump in the event of a hung parliament.
But what his newspaper column did provide was a neat attack on both Labour and the Conservatives and their claims to be progressive. The lines are worth repeating because we will hear them again and again during the unofficial and official election campaign.
1. “Mr Brown has created a tax system where the poorest pay a higher proportion of their income in taxes than the rich.”
This is the theme David Cameron warmed to during his party conference speech last October. Indeed, he sounded at his most impassioned — and won his most sustained ovation — during a passage that opened like this:
In Gordon Brown’s Britain, if you’re a single mother with two kids earning £150 a week, the withdrawal of benefits and the additional taxes mean that for every extra pound you earn, you keep just four pence.
Expect more of this from both Cameron and Clegg.
2. “Mr Cameron’s top priority is tax cuts for millionaires.”
The Tories’ commitment to raise the inheritance-tax threshold inspired Gordon Brown’s best one-liner of 2009:
This must be the only tax change in history where the people proposing it — the leader of the opposition and the shadow chancellor — will know by name almost all of the potential beneficiaries.
As George Eaton wrote yesterday, inheritance tax could yet become politically toxic for the Tories, and not just because the revenue-recouping windfall tax on non-domiciles may not add up.
Both major parties had better ensure that their rebuttal units are working hard to combat these attacks.