Alistair Darling, Back from the Brink: 1,000 Days at Number 11, p. 269:
If I could increase gradually the rate of VAT to 19 or even 20 per cent, I could scrap the National Insurance increase. I could compensate low earners with a package of measures to negate the impact of the VAT increase. On top of that, I could surprise people by cutting both the basic rate of income tax and corporation tax in order to boost growth. I tried this out with Gordon, but was met with an emphatic no. I talked to both Peter and Ed Balls, trying to convince them that we needed something big if we were to come out of this with any momentum at all. While Peter this time had an open mind, Gordon and Ed remained implacably opposed to the VAT increase. There was nothing more I could do, so we stuck with the tax measures previously announced.
Two years later, and thanks to Brown and Balls, not only do we still have their increased NI and income taxes, we also have 20% VAT.
Thanks, guys. Thanks a fucking bunch.