Letter to the Editor: Patrick O’Brien’s criticism of Liz Truss (Frankly Speaking, Cambrian News, 12 October) is harsh but generally fair and balanced. He rightly recognises that it was Gordon Brown who increased taxes on the lower paid, and also recognises Kwasi Kwarteng’s attempt to decouple the energy market from gas prices, which would have allowed us to buy the renewable energy (that we the tax payer have subsidised) at a fair and reasonable price.

But I would take issue with two points.

Patrick harangues a sizeable proportion of the electorate for voting Conservative in 2019.  My doorstep experience was that most people didn’t want an extreme left wing government run by people with pretty dubious moral values (apologising for Putin, the IRA and anti-Semitism etc), and that they also recognised that the self-appointed elite simply did not have the right to over rule the “little people”, and that Brexit had to be delivered.  People voted for the choices presented to them at that time.

Secondly Patrick refers to Liz Truss’ “disreputable ambition to shovel many thousands more into the pockets of the richest taxpayers”.  This isn’t a true representation. In cutting tax, the Treasury is not giving people money; it is taking less from those people. It is a very important distinction. For 70 years we have deluded ourselves that the NHS is “free”, and that is one important reason why we now have an NHS that can’t cope. Let us all try to get basic facts right.

Personally I would have wished that any scope for tax cuts was aimed at the bottom of the tree, with an increase in the Personal Allowance. That might have encouraged people back in to work at a time when human resources are badly needed.  But it is worth looking at the Which Tax Calculator, and comparing how much of income is taken in tax and NI at different pay rates. Those at the top pay a far greater proportion of their earnings to the state. That is why the top one per cent of income tax payers, contribute 25 per cent of income tax receipts.

So if you are interested in Tax TAKE rather that Tax RATES, that is important. Frighten your top earners away or discourage them, and the money available to pay for our NHS, schools etc may in fact reduce.

It’s worth remembering that Gordon Brown’s final tax act was to increase top rate tax from 40 to 50 per cent. When the Lib Dem/Conservative coalition reduced that to 45 per cent, tax take from top rate payers went up. Reducing tax gave our government more money to spend on us all. Quite possibly reducing that rate back to 40 per cent (where it had been from 1987 to 2009) would have increased the tax take further; now we will never know. People fortunate enough to be in that tax bracket are probably working all the hours God sends, and many will be running businesses creating jobs for others; that is more tax and NI and VAT for our public services.

Maybe what our country needs is even more people aspiring to become entrepreneurs, and creating jobs and wealth.

Fourteen years of quantitative easing and zero percent interest rates (introduced as an emergency measure after the crash of 2008) have laid an inflationary fire. Fiscal incontinence during Covid was like pouring petrol on. Then Putin lit the spark. Fair play; Liz Truss was not personally responsible for any of that. I daresay that decent people of different political persuasions will feel uncomfortable at the “pile on” we are now witnessing, with many of the characters responsible for the mess only too happy to pass on the blame. It’s pretty obscene. Central bank orthodoxy printed close to a trillion pounds of funny money.  But it was only really accessible to the” haves”, driving up asset prices in the process. It’s one reason why our young people can’t get onto the housing ladder. It has also resulted in low growth and low productivity gains.

If we want sustainable good quality public services in this country (that future generations can benefit from) we have to create an economy that is growing faster than inflation.  Think about that for a bit; it’s a fact not an opinion. We can pretend to paper over the cracks with an ever increasing tax burden, but pretty soon that will blow up and we won’t have an NHS etc.

We are heading into a recession (globally).  The way out of recession is to reduce interest rates and tax take to stimulate growth. But because interest rates have been zero for so long, helping inflation to get out of control, there is no choice but to raise them not least to protect the value of sterling. Meantime our taxation is the highest it has been for 70 years. This is a result of orthodox thinking. Doubling down isn’t going to make things better.

Someone had the courage to recognise this and try to do something about it. They misjudged the best way to do this and failed to explain it properly. But it doesn’t mean the idea was wrong. Patrick O’Brien’s implied prediction is that my party will take a hammering at the next election and he is probably right. Indeed, if you decide to publish this letter, Liz Truss may be gone as PM before you do so. My prediction is that we may look back on the last few weeks and realise we missed the last chance to front up to the very difficult situation we are in and to try to find a way out.

Patrick Loxdale,


Ceredigion Conservative Association,