Speaking at the Forum of Private Business small firms’ summit yesterday, Clarke said: “Make the argument as clear and as strong as you can.” He told the gathering to define why the capital gains tax tweak is so damaging, as distinct from the more general tax creep of recent years, and claimed that the chancellor will “carefully consider” what he hears. Clarke also spoke about the supplementary business rate, which is being introduced to help local authorities fund economic development. He admitted that many local businesses think it’s a rubbish move but said he is “less hostile” towards it. “I think the case is to develop a strong relationship between business and the local authority.” It was interesting to hear Clarke defend the supplementary business rate but not the contentious capital gains tax proposals. Perhaps he’s protecting his political hide or maybe just flexing his muscle against the new world order in the Labour party. But could it also mark the beginning of a Labour party backlash against Alistair Darling’s plans for capital gains tax? One thing’s for sure: the campaign against the proposed changes is gaining momentum, and there were plenty of people in the room yesterday who believe the debate is not going to drop as the temperatures do this winter.
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