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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Labour try to hide their Mansion Tax plans from public scrutiny

If there is one thing that is worse than going to the electorate with a half-worked out policy, it is then trying to avoid being held to account on the details of that policy during the election campaign. Such an approach never works out well. And yet it looks like Ed Balls is going to attempt this trick over Labour's plans for a mansion tax.

The Times reports that the Shadow Chancellor has now stated that he will not reveal full details of the Mansion Tax plan until after the election amidst considerable disquiet within the Labour Party about the policy and the way it is being presented:

As voices from the left and right of Labour raised concerns about the plan, a former adviser to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown suggested that it had been a mistake to call the policy a “mansion tax”.

Patrick Diamond said the name “has been seen as provocative — as deliberately hitting the rich”. He added: “Some in Labour fear the party will suffer electorally if it is perceived as deliberately attacking the wealthier sections of society.”

The discord came as new analysis from estate agents Knight Frank showed the degree to which the levy would be skewed towards London. Under the plans, the top 2.5 per cent of homes in the capital will be hit. If the same proportion of homes were affected in each region, the threshold would be £343,558 in the northeast, £376,487 in Wales and £406,139 in Scotland.

One Labour frontbencher has already suggested that the tax is unfair. At an event in November, Steve Reed, the shadow home office minister, said there were “extraordinarily wealthy people” outside London who would not pay the tax. His office said last night that he was “fully supportive” of the nationwide mansion tax as set out by Mr Balls.

Questions re-emerged over the plan after Lord Mandelson, the former business secretary, warned the policy was “crude” and “short-termist”. Diane Abbott, a leading figure on the left of the party, said that Lord Mandelson was “on to something”. Her fellow potential Labour mayoral candidates David Lammy, Margaret Hodge and Tessa Jowell have also criticised the policy.

Could the Labour manifesto be unravelling even before the election campaign has properly started.
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