Liam Bateman writes
The Conservatives’ plan to cut tax credits as part of their austerity plan to balance Britain’s books could potentially swing more and more voters to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour if it goes ahead. The issue is one that has really lit a fire under the backside of the Tory party along with the attack on steel refineries in the North Yorkshire city of Redcar. Many have labelled the move ‘the death of compassionate conservatives’ (don’t know what they are, but they sound like Volvos with gun racks) and a Lib Dem moment for David Cameron.
The question of the status of tax credits has been around since before the election and the fear of cuts has been amongst voters for a while. It was the first question for Mr Cameron on a leader’s special of BBC’s Question Time show, which he assured unconvincingly would not fall, with Ed Miliband promising the same. Despite this promise, the incoming Conservative government, as part of their billions of pounds worth of cuts to bring down Britain’s deficit. With the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, however, there has been another strong voice against the cuts in the Opposition benches amongst Caroline Lucas, Angus Robertson and many MPs from Labour, Green, the SNP and Plaid Cymru and also showed us Jeremy’s best performance in PMQs so far, rebutting Cameron’s claims to delighted cheers.
Despite a fight in the House of Lords, with Liberal Democrat and Labour peers voting to delay the cuts, it’s looking likely these cuts will pass and it could be deadly for the Tories, much like in 2010. After Clegg and Cameron broke pledges on tuition fees and VAT many voters deserted the party and it looked like Miliband would repeat 1997 until the UKIP surge. It could be the case here again. The Conservatives currently have a majority of twelve in the Commons, even smaller than John Major’s 21 in 1992 and it’s a majority that, with a good swing across the country, would be gone in a sweep, returning it to a hung parliament. There’s no sign of Labour being the biggest party yet, though some polls have shown the Tory lead has shrunk to four percent, which would reclaim 14 seats for Labour across the country, including Morley and Outwood, the former seat of Ed Balls. There would need to be a 1997 style collapse of the Tory vote in order for Labour to get close to a majority without the SNP.
Could tax credits swing the polls to Corbyn? It seems it could, with a businesswoman on BBC’s Question Time condemning the move and backing Corbyn despite her support for Trident. But it can’t do the job alone. New policy and continued action against the Tories’ unpopular austerity agenda could send Labour’s vote up across the country, maybe even snagging seats from the SNP and reasserting itself as the dominant party in Wales. It all depends on British Labour’s next move.