Many scoffed at the the new Libertarian Party's first official policy - to abolish income tax. Yet their calculations suggested that, if UK government spending were reduced to the same level (in real terms) as when Labour took power, the savings would be enough to do it. This implies that had Labour's "stealth taxes" been implemented openly as increases in income tax - they would have doubled the rate. This was simply too much for most to believe. To be honest, I still find it hard to believe myself and am inclined to think the party was unwise to take its first stand on such a controversial platform. It allowed them to be too easily dismissed as cranks.
Now someone over at Garbagegate (a new site to me) has taken the trouble to document Labour's stealth taxes. Read it and weep. Then ask yourself, if (a) this list is accurate and (b) the Libertarian Party's calculation of the cumulative effects of those taxes is correct, how well HM Opposition and the media have been doing their jobs in the last decade. To achieve the equivalent of doubling income tax while retaining a reputation for "prudence" and making your opponents afraid to propose tax cuts would be a huge political achievement. While Gordon Brown may go down in history as a loser, his dark arts of political deceit will - I am afraid - be studied and emulated for generations to come.