Tories call for tax cuts after by-election defeat

CONSERVATIVE peer Lord Forsyth yesterday called for fresh tax cuts in the forthcoming Budget, as Tory backbenchers said the party must focus on improving living standards if it wants to win the next general election.

“George has got to change direction – he’s got to start cutting taxes and encouraging enterprise to invest. At the moment we are flatlining,” Forsyth, a former cabinet minister, said yesterday.

“Out there in the country people are hurting. The chancellor should spend less time talking about an age of austerity and more time talking about how we can get back to having an age of prosperity,” he told the BBC’s World This Weekend.

On Thursday the Conservatives came third behind Ukip in the Eastleigh by-election, despite multiple constituency visits from Prime Minister David Cameron.

Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth West, yesterday told City A.M. that voters in the Hampshire constituency were mainly concerned with high utility bills, increases in fuel duty and stagnant real wages: “They’re looking on and seeing an economy that could not be described as booming. They want a government that demonstrates it understands the chill winds that people are feeling. This is a big opportunity and it should be a cost of living Budget.”

Burns also insisted George Osborne should take the opportunity to slash the rate of corporation tax: “We talk about the UK being open for business, so let’s give it a tax rate that really boosts that.”

His comments were echoed by fellow Tory backbencher Douglas Carswell who says Ukip’s Eastleigh success was a symptomatic of an electorate that is rejecting traditional parties.

“Too much of what the old, established parties do is simply too generic and bland. Aimed at everyone, it appears authentic to none,” he writes in today’s City A.M.

Meanwhile a senior Lib Dem has suggested his party could side with Labour in next week’s House of Commons vote on the mansion tax. Party president Tim Farron said the Lib Dems are “all ears” when it comes to backing an annual levy on owners of homes worth more than £2m.