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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4 Responses to “Are Ed and AJ really split over 50p?”

  1. Sunder Katwala

    @oflynnexpress AJ says "v.important for times we live in" (tho' wasn't for it pre-2008/forever) (via @wdjstraw)

  2. Kevin leonard

    I would be more bothered if there was not a slight disagreement at the top, it shows the difference betwen Labour who are willing to talk to each other and discuss rather than the coalition choice of Tory boy talk Lib boy do

  3. Anon E Mouse

    Will – Seems to me that LFF is quick enough to try to find splits in the coalition government that don’t exist so this is chickens coming home to roost.

    Personally I have no problem if Johnson does not agree with the leader – so what? – providing he tows the party line, whatever that may be.

    What was worse was Ed Balls solemn, serious and humourless attitude compared to Michael Gove on Andrew Marr on Sunday. Lighten up for goodness sake I say.

    Ed Miliband needs to watch Ed Balls. He always was a nasty piece of work and doesn’t look like he’s changed…

  4. Piers Varley

    AJ’s position sounds more optimistic than Ed’s. It suggests he thinks the economy will improve over the life of this parliament, which is a vote of confidence in Britain (and the center ground). However, Ed’s is probably better politics; sit on your hands until you are forced to make a decision. My concern is that he really, philosophically believes in a top tax of 50%. If that is his position come the next election, we’ll be thrown back 30 years and have to continue debating degrees of difference from the sidelines instead of running the country.

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