An electrician's view on what sparked a Tory backlash

The electrician I spoke to says David Cameron's top rate tax cut sent out the wrong message. Photo: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

When we filmed in Derby this week for the local elections, I spoke to an electrician who perhaps can sum up everything that’s gone (and will go) wrong for David Cameron.

Stuart Bradley is a labourer currently working on a hotel conversion as he tries to provide for his young family. In 2010, he voted Conservative.

At that time, he’d concluded Labour was failing to get to grips with the benefits system which was rewarding too many people who, in his view, did not deserve it and were not, like him, getting up at the crack of dawn each morning to bring money home for his family.

“I thought we were ready for a change,” he said.

In the local elections on Thursday, two years after he voted Conservative, he is planning to support Labour.


His industry is contracting. A slump in construction helped to drag the UK back into recession last week after two successive quarters of negative growth.

Many workers at the building site on which we filmed shared the view that government cuts were principally to blame.

But Stuart's finances have also been affected by George Osborne in another way. He had his working tax credits taken away in April. He says he is losing about £40 per month.

The working tax credit he says was, "the one bit of help we got from the government and now it's been stopped. It feels unfair."

Top rate tax cut**

He also looks at the last month's Budget and can't workout why the richest one per cent (those on the 50p income tax rate) were given a tax cut.

How does that make him feel, I ask.

"Angry. I am struggling with a young family just starting out. They [the top earners] don't need the money and they're the ones getting the relief."

It explains why David Cameron had reservations about the Chancellor desire to remove the 50p tax cut. At a time of austerity, the prime minister worried the message would be the wrong one.

On thisevidence at least, he was right to be concerned.

Because despite attempting to make the case for a lowertop rate (it was not raising any money and was driving the job creators abroad) anyone struggling to make ends meet simply thinks the tax cut for those on £150,000 per year is grossly unfair.

"I knew I was voting for cuts," he told me,"but I didn't think they'd hit the ordinary man."

And if this one electrician on a building site in Derby represents a fraction of the general mood of voters around the country, then Thursday will be a very painful night indeed for the Conservatives.

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