The Truth

Labour MPs Revolt over Tax .........


The Guardian, 4/4/08

Gordon Brown was facing the first serious test of his political authority yesterday when a senior minister attacked his plans to raise alcohol duty in the budget and he was forced to respond to a tax revolt by backbench MPs.

To defuse escalating concern over the centrepiece of his final budget as chancellor, Brown's whips promised to look again at claims that 5 million poorer households were being hurt by the abolition of the 10p income tax band.

A group of normally loyal backbenchers had tabled an early day motion criticising the impact of the abolition and rejecting assurances given by ministers about its impact.

After a frantic day of arm-twisting, the sponsor of the motion, Greg Pope, himself a former whip, withdrew it saying: "I have been given assurances by senior ministers that they will look at its impact, especially on pensioners, some of whom are losing more than 200 at a time of rising fuel costs".

Pope said he could have won the support of 100 backbenchers if he had not withdrawn.

The signs of unease, just weeks before local elections on May 1, reflected concern among Labour MPs that the government cannot afford to appear out of touch as voters face economic distress for the first time in a decade.

Some MPs were furious with Brown this week, believing he had not been listening to the concerns they were picking up on the doorstep about the cost of living.

Even ministers close to the prime minister accept they are in difficulty and need a clearer message about fairness.

Rest of article is here.