In a speech today, David Cameron will promise that under a Conservative government, there will be no rises in VAT, national insurance or income tax for five years.

Furthermore, if re-elected prime minister he will enshrine that pledge in law in a so-called 'tax lock'.

What's strange, is that some years ago, a then shadow chancellor called George Osborne had something quite disparaging to say about such a move.

As recorded by Hansard, Osborne told the Commons during a debate on the Labour government's fiscal responsibility bill (from chancellor Alistair Darling):

No other Chancellor in the long history of the office has felt the need to pass a law in order to convince people that he has the political will to implement his own Budget.

As one commentator observed this week, there are only two conclusions. Either the Chancellor has lost confidence in himself to stick to his resolution, and is, so to speak, asking the police to help him, or he fears that everyone else has lost confidence in his ability to keep his word, but hopes that they might believe in the statute book if not in him. Neither is much of a recommendation for the Chancellor of the day.


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