Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, announced today that his ambition for a mansion tax has been "delayed", by the Conservatives. One envisages a forlorn Nick, his toy train's sparkly wheel vandalised by the careless, booted foot of the Tory party.
Cheer-up, Nick, not all is lost! As Vince Cable's best bud, Lord Oakeshott, recommended at the Fabian Annual Conference, last Saturday, Labour could simply make an amendment to the upcoming Finance Bill to include a mansion tax.
It would be certain to pass, as the Lib Dems, allied with Labour, and minor parties would be able to out-vote the Conservatives. Hurrah! Another victory for the 'squeezed middle' over the 1%?
Indeed, if Labour does table such an amendment, which I sorely hope it does, the Lib Dems should grab the offer with both hands. The Lib Dems promised a mansion tax, on property worth over £2m, in their manifesto and the coalition agreement does not rule one out. Therefore, if the Lib Dems did refuse to support it, it would have the smack of political expediency, rather than moral expediency about it.
Inflicting a defeat on the Conservatives, however salivating it would be, should not be our prime concern, though. A mansion tax is vitally important to any reform of our tax system. In an age of highly-mobile capital, in which the super-rich dodge tax with glee and impunity, we have to tax what can't be moved and what can be easily measured, financially.
Before the general election the Lib Dems said a mansion tax would accrue the Treasury an additional £17bn a year. Think of how many apprenticeships that could fund; how many affordable houses it could finance, or how many police it could put on our streets! Or, I should add, how far such a large amount of money could go in paying-off our national debt!
To Ed Balls I say, get working with the Lib Dems on this point of shared principle, and to Nick Clegg I say, live dangerously, assert yourself! You never know, you might just enjoy it!
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