Rightwing troublemakers are trying to bring Cameron down
Opinion round-up: Troublemaking Tories, why we should cheer Hollande, and is tax slavery?
TORIES PAINT FALSE PICTURE OF COALITION WOBBLES
PETER OBORNE ON THE COALITION
The Coalition is stronger than recent press coverage would have you believe, says Peter Oborne in The Daily Telegraph. There have, of course, been severe problems, but both sides have kept to the promises made in the Coalition Agreement and have pushed through very bold reforms in health, welfare and education. While the budget may have been a shambles, George Osborne's economic strategy remains admirably intact. Nevertheless, newspapers must be written and stories must fill the vacuum, so a handful of loud voices on the rightwing of the Tory party have created a narrative that David Cameron is incompetent and out of touch. Any setback can be twisted to fit the thesis of governmental disintegration. But these critics are political obsessives who tend to be parochial and inward looking, forgetting that in the real world, internal politics "matter very little to most people".
ARE TAXPAYERS SLAVES OR GOOD CITIZENS?
DAVID AARONOVITCH ON INCOME TAX
The charity tax relief debate highlights the fact that the rich want more freedom to exercise their judgement on how to spend their money, says David Aaronovitch in The Times. They argue that charitable spending is better targeted and better used by non-government agencies than by the government. Yet they still expect the police to arrive if they're robbed. Actually many Britons share the view "that they should be left with more of their own money to do with it what they think fit". They do not want it squandered on scroungers, foreign aid, illegal wars and MPs' expenses. Some argue that by paying taxes we are slaves to the state. There have been calls to reduce the number of people paying tax. But what about citizenship and contribution? As the population ages and retires, the income tax base is becoming narrower and the fiscal obligations of citizenship fall on fewer and fewer shoulders. "Is this what we really want?"
CHEER FOR HOLLANDE BUT HE WON'T CHANGE EUROPE
MARTIN KETTLE ON THE FRENCH ELECTION
It looks as if France will soon have a Socialist president, says Martin Kettle in The Guardian. President Sarkozy's chances of re-election look like toast and it's no surprise. "The financial crisis has dashed the careers of incumbent leader after leader." But a victory for Hollande "would not just be another run-of-the-mill ousting" of any old European incumbent. It would be the victory of a socialist in one of the two most important countries in Europe. "It would create a Europe-wide pole of influence around which hopes of an alternative economic vision would inevitably cluster." Unfortunately, it's doubtful Hollande's victory would be transformative for France, Europe and the wider left. Times are difficult and unless Hollande wants to bring the eurozone down, his options are frustratingly circumscribed. But we should cheer for him.