Miliband’s Mansion Tax: safe as houses

David Miliband's mansion tax has been attacked by the Daily Mail. But a £1 million tax, as proposed last year by Vince Cable, enjoyed significant public support.

The Daily Mail today tried a different approach to attacking David Miliband’s mansion tax proposal after its Associated Press colleagues the Evening Standard called the progressive measure a “tax blow”. Perhaps embarrassed concerned that the Standard’s line was at odds with their Dispossessed campaign that highlights income disparities in the capital, the Mail implied the policy was hypocritical. But the idea, first proposed when Vince Cable suggested a £1 million cap, is popular with voters.

In today’s paper, the Daily Mail outline that Miliband’s proposal would exclude his own £1.5 million home from the tax and turn to the TaxPayers’ Alliance’s Matthew Elliott for a quote:

“It’s too convenient to be a coincidence that David Miliband has proposed a mansion tax that his very own palatial home would be exempt from.”

Perhaps the Mail and Mr Elliott have a point and Miliband could be bolder. After all – as yesterday’s Evening Standard was keen to the show – the policy will only affect a meagre 34,000 Londoners and just 6,000 other homes so capturing a few more can hardly hurt.

Indeed, although the policy originally proposed by Vince Cable – to introduce a ‘Mansion tax’ on properties worth more than £1 million – provoked a backlash at Lib Dem conference last year, it turned out to be extremely popular. As Financial Website of the year, This Is Money reported last September:

“An overwhelming majority of voters support Vince Cable’s ‘mansion tax’ – the policy that was dismissed by delegates at the Liberal Democrat conference as ‘electoral suicide’.

“A poll in today’s Mail on Sunday has found that, by a margin of more than two to one, voters back the plan under which the owners of homes worth more than £1m would be charged an average levy of £4,000 each.

“A total of 57% are in favour of the policy, with just 27% against. Even among Conservative voters, the most likely to oppose such ‘soak the rich’ policies, 44% were against the idea compared to 38% for it.”

The Labour leadership contender would be liable for £5,000 if a tax of 1 per cent were levied on properties worth more than £1 million cap – perhaps a price worth paying for a significant £2.2 billion tax windfall*, a popular policy, and calling the Mail’s bluff.

* The Liberal Democrats estimated that £1.1 billion would be raised from a 0.5 per cent levy on properties worth over £1 million.

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