Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Tactical Briefing

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Tactical Briefing

Article excerpt

From: The Unit

To: GB

Subject: Budget ideas/Mandelson toying

* So--pretty good week. Budget seemed to go well. The strategy we formulated in Feb of keeping all government activities, announcements and appearances as un-eyecatching and flavourless as possible seems to be working. If we can blend in with the national habitat to the extent that people stop remarking on us, then maybe--like Last of the Summer Wine, the Oxford-Cambridge boat race and Bedfordshire--we can become one of those elements of national life that people neither like nor dislike but accept and assume will carry on for ever.

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However, in the event of the public's mood changing, we did have a bit of a think about eye-catching proposals we might float to counter the feeling that we are a bunch of undertakers driving the country along a death march to the morgue (not our words but taken from a recent focus group). So--a few ideas came up:

* Wealth bonus: Think John Hutton's recent line about us being prepared to celebrate not condemn huge salaries was good. It's counter-intuitive, it annoys the core vote and it has a thrilling edge of apparent immorality about it.

The idea would be to show we really back wealth creation and entrepreneurialism by offering a government cash bonus to very high earners at the end of each tax year. Obviously a [pounds sterling]10-15,000 ex gratia payment would be relatively insignificant to the rich themselves in comparison to their massive incomes--while being a huge drain on the revenue. …

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