First he was positive that the Conservatives would introduce game tax breaks, now Ed Vaizey – shadow spokesperson for the game industry – is vehement.
Yet the Tory MP, speaking in response to Develop’s story published earlier today, couldn’t promise that a game industry ‘mini-manifesto’ would be released before the general election. Such a paper was supposed to outline and detail fiscal support for the industry – and was promised would be released last wek.
But instead, Vaizey has asked the industry to trust him.
He said that George Osborne is behind game tax breaks. He said that the mini-manifesto had been delayed. He said that documents get moved around during election campaigns, which is why it hasn’t appeared. And, he said, Develop’s report was wrong.
In an animated exchange, Vaizey criticised Develop for publishing what he considers ‘lies’, after a report released earlier today saw Labour MP Tom Watson accuse the Conservatives of abandoning policy on game tax breaks.
“Things move fast in an election, timings change, it is our policy to introduce game development tax breaks,” he said.
“I would like you to make that clear on your website.”
Vaizey again insisted that the Conservatives are “emphatically, 100 per cent in support for game tax breaks. No ifs, no buts.”
Labour MP Tom Watson – an industry sympathiser who previously claimed to have identified conflict on the issue from within the Conservative Party – said Vaizey “has lost the war” with shadow chancellor George Osborne.
The Conservatives’ policy manifesto, which was released after Watson first claimed there was disharmony on the issue, only added to such suggestions. Develop has routinely contacted Tory campaign headquarters to discuss the situation, but the group had not returned a statement.
With the Conservatives’ sudden silence on the issue, MP Watson told Develop that “the only conclusion I can draw is the party has rejected calls for games industry tax credit.”
He said: “They are avoiding breaking the bad news before polling day.”
Vaizey has now hit back on that accusation.
“We are fully behind game tax breaks. This is my unequivocal statement,” he said.
“It’s been approved by George Osborne.”
Develop put to Vaizey that he remains the only Tory MP that has even mentioned the game industry. Osborne had numerous opportunities to do so, we said, in the 131-page Tory Manifesto that he was central in drafting – but didn’t.
Develop put to Vaizey that tax breaks are widely regarded as the most important issue facing the game industry today, that many industry bodies are concerned that the Tories are undecided on the issue, that the party needs to back Viazey’s own claims – with clear and detailed policy – and not simply make promises before an election.
Develop has previously attempted to get comment from the shadow treasury team on the issue, but a spokesperson for the party insists that there’s no need. We’re told that the shadow treasury would only echo Vaizey’s statement.
Vaizey wants the game industry to trust his word. He remains unequivocally, undeniably and unstoppably in vocal support for game tax breaks.
The numbers, he says, will follow.