Going into the last general election the Lib Dems promised a local income tax and a 50% top rate. This promise of tax raises probably cost them a lot of seats, especially in the more affluent Conservative held seats.
The Lib Dem game plan is based around ongoing electoral success. All their literature screams “Lib Dems can win here” or “Only the Lib Dems can beat Labour/the Tories” etc. They usually have a misleading graph or a cartoon with their famous “two horse race” tucked on there too.
Over the last few years they have done well in by-elections, either winning them or gaining a lot of ground. In most cases these have been Labour held seats and their success was more to do with a desire on the part of the electorate to kick Labour rather than any great desire to get a Lib Dem MP.
Bromley presents them with a problem, it is a Conservative seat. Their decapitation strategy failed miserably at the general election in 2005 and there is no real chance that they can turn Bromley and Chislehurst into a Lib Dem seat. More than that, the problems they are having with a lack-lustre leader and funding troubles means that they could well slip backwards, badly.
This will burst their bubble, big time.
Along to the rescue rides Vincent Cable, the Lib Dems finance spokesman. 2p off income tax!
Why would they announce that? There are a number of policy issues where they are on much firmer ground, foreign affairs being the most obvious. No one believes the Lib Dems are a low tax party, no one. Also until this is policy is ratified at their party conference it is meaningless.
And trust me, while the ever sensible Vincent Cable understands that the Lib Dems tax policies are their biggest electoral handicap the bearded, sandal wearers at their conference will kick these tax plans into touch.
I suspect that this tax announcement is meant to do two things, take some pressure off of Ming and prevent an embarrassing drubbing in Bromley and Chislehurst.