Are Ed and AJ really split over 50p?

The red tops are overflowing with stories today of Labour's split over the 50p rate. But is there really a cigarette paper between the Labour leader and his shadow chancellor?

The red tops are overflowing with stories today of Labour’s split over the popular 50p rate. But is there really a cigarette paper between the Labour leader and his shadow chancellor?

In a story titled ‘Is Ed Miliband losing his grip already? Johnson openly defies Labour leader on 50p tax rate’, the Daily Mail declares:

“Ed Miliband’s bid to get a grip on the Labour Party ran into trouble last night when Alan Johnson openly defied him over tax policy.

“In an extraordinary move, the Shadow Chancellor indicated he still wants to put a time limit on the new 50p tax rate on high earners – hours after Mr Miliband said it should be made permanent.”

The Sun claim that ‘Johnson defies Red Ed over 50p tax rate’ while even the Daily Telegraph suggest that ‘Ed Miliband and Alan Johnson clash over 50p tax’.

So what act of defiance could have prompted the headlines. In an evening interview with the BBC, Alan Johnson said:

“I’ve always believed what I believe but I think what we’re saying now is there’s no question that at the next general election, over the next five years, we’re not going to need [to repeal] that 50p tax rate. It’s very important for the times we live in.

“And I think Ed’s right about a clear message of fairness – people bearing the cost of these difficult financial times – I think is the argument that persuades most people that this is the right thing to do.”

An outrageous instance of betrayal particularly when Ed Miliband so clearly told the Guardian yesterday:

“Put it this way, I took the view that I did in the campaign, that remains my view. And when I think about the next election – is our policy going to be to reduce the 50p rate for people on £150,000? I don’t think it is. But obviously, we’ll decide that nearer the time.”

So Labour’s leader thinks that the next manifesto won’t declare a cut in the 50p rate but will decide “nearer the time” while Alan Johnson says there’s “no question” about the party’s policy for the next general election. What disgraceful disunity!

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