Two tape recordings have emerged that claim to give an insight into the secret tax plans of the Tories and of Labour.
One is a recording obtained by Sky News, from a source, of Labour’s Andy Burnham, saying he would consider a 15% levy on estates to pay for social care.
The other, obtained by The Mirror, is of Minister for Government Policy, Oliver Letwin, in which he suggests a flat rate of income tax could be discussed in the future.
The tapes have emerged simultaneously – even though they were both recorded several weeks ago.
At the Fabian’s Summer Conference MrBurnham, the Shadow Health Secretary, was asked whether a tax on estates to fund social care was being considered by Labour.
He replied: “I put that forward before the last election to support a national care service? but there is a debate to be had on whether that is acceptable the public.
“But I think it is, because the cost of social care is as unfair as pre-NHS health care. It seeks out the most vulnerable and makes them pay with everything they’ve got.”
He went on to say: “It’s only where you create a system where everyone is in and everyone is then covered, that I think you’ll be able to help people protect their own homes.
“If you have that system, people would pay 10-15%, but they would be able to pay that as an insurance payment to protect the 85%.”
The Conservatives say this would lead to people selling their homes or releasing equity from them as the only way for carers to pay the “death tax” after losing a relative.
A Labour spokesperson said: “This is not Labour policy. We have made clear we want to improve social care and we are consulting on how that is best done.”
Meanwhile, Oliver Letwin was taped saying that Conservatives will look at a “flat tax” on earnings when Britain’s finances have improved.
Asked about flat rate tax at an event organised by right-wing think-tank Politeia earlier this month Mr Letwin said: “It’s enormously complicated and a risk to business if we move to a flat tax regime in the hope that we get enough extra revenue to make up for the revenue you will certainly lose.
“And I’d draw your attention to the fact that in 2010, indeed now, we were not in a position to take a large fiscal cut.
“There may come a time when the situation is different and that discussion will no doubt open up at that point.”
Responding to this Chris Leslie MP, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “David Cameron’s close friend and Cabinet colleague Oliver Letwin has let the cat out of the bag.
“He’s been caught letting slip what’s on the real Tory agenda for a second term – the old right-wing idea of a flat tax championed by George Osborne10 years ago.”
A Conservatives spokesman told Sky News: “He is clear, there will be no flat tax.”
So it seems tape recordings are becoming a weapon in this election campaign.
Politicians will have to be on their guard. If they say things to please the gathering in the room, they may find it reaching a wider audience.