Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p tax

A new poll shows that just 25% of voters support the abolition of the 50p tax rate. Danny Alexander is on the right side of the argument.

A new poll shows that just 25 per cent of voters – including only a third of Tory voters – would support the abolition of the 50p tax rate. The findings suggest that Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, is on the right side of the debate in dismissing his Tory colleagues as living in “cloud cuckoo land“.

The YouGov poll for the Sunday Times found that just 25 per cent of voters supported a policy to scrap the 50p higher rate of income tax. Even fewer voters – just 21 per cent – thought that the policy would boost growth. As the graph below shows clear majorities of supporters for all major political parties oppose the move.

In recent weeks, senior Tory politicians have called for the policy – introduced by Alistair Darling – to be scrapped. Last week London mayor, Boris Johnson, said that abolition of the 50p rate would be “a signal that London is open for business … That’s the right direction to be going in“. Former Conservative chancellor, Lord Lamont, used an article in the Sunday Telegraph to write:

“Lower taxes are important. Our taxes are uncompetitive and too high compared with other European countries. The fifty per cent higher rate of income tax is probably one tax which could be abolished without any effect on revenue.”

Last week the Financial Times reported that Mark Field, Tory MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, had urged the Chancellor to “look at a big iconic move” such as scrapping the 50p top rate of tax, accompanied by an acceleration of the plan to take the lowest paid out of the tax system. Meanwhile a host of commentators including Spectator Editor, Fraser Nelson, have called for George Osborne to scrap the tax.

The Treasury appears to be split on the issue with George Osborne reported to be in favour of scrapping the tax by 2013 while Danny Alexander said yesterday that those who supported the right-wing policy were living in “cloud cuckoo land“.

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36 Responses to “Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p tax”

  1. Rhys Hartley

    Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p tax reports @wdjstraw

  2. Craig Owen

    Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p tax reports @wdjstraw

  3. artuncut

    Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p tax reports @wdjstraw

  4. One Society

    Sunday Times poll finds only 25% of voters want to scrap 50p tax rate (via @wdjstraw / @leftfootfwd)

  5. Michael

    Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p tax l Left Foot Forward –

  6. Hitchin England

    RT @leftfootfwd: Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p tax reports @wdjstraw #NewsClub

  7. TP recommends...

    New polling shows only a third of Tory voters support scrapping the 50p tax rate, says @wdjstraw on @leftfootfwd

  8. Mr Danger

    Unfortunately, even if the tax proves to be counterproductive, there would still be widespread support for it.

  9. 45apl

    RT @leftfootfwd: Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p tax reports @wdjstraw #NewsClub

  10. Dave

    The fact that many people apparently want to retain the 50p rate even if it ultimately reduces the overall tax take says it all.

  11. Alan W

    “[A] signal that London is open for business…”

    Or more accurately a signal that Boris’ re-election campaign fund is open for donations. And how many of his contributors do you suppose will be in the 50p tax bracket. Quite a few I’ll bet.

    I doubt if Boris (or the Tories more widely) really cares that much whether scrapping the 50p rate is popular. It’s primarily a payoff for campaign donations rendered past, present and future.

  12. enayat2006

    Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p tax reports @wdjstraw

  13. Selohesra

    Would be interesting to have similar chart identifying support by those who dont pay it and support by those who do. Its easy to support spending someone elses money – very progressive.

  14. Leon Wolfson

    Ah, so people who don’t pay a tax shouldn’t be commenting on it? Typical.

    The tax system’s general nature, in progressiveness or otherwise, as a whole, is something which is a legitimate issue.

  15. Simon Hughes

    Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p tax –

  16. Jason Paul Grant

    RT @leftfootfwd: Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p tax

  17. Anon E Mouse

    Since this tax is revenue neutral why have it? It’s pointless and just encourages the politics of envy.

    Considering the Deputy Leader of Labour (who doubled IT) is Harriet Harman – herself a countess toff of the highest order, all I can see is typical left wing hypocrisy by continuing the tax.

    As for Boris Johnson he’s going to walk it anyway but the real question for Labour is, considering how unpopular socialism is worldwide, why would you want to “squeeze people until the pips squeeked”?

    Labour’s most successful leader ever, the election winning Tony Blair wouldn’t have done it but then he was interested in re-election I suppose….

  18. Leon Wolfson

    Because there’s absolutely no evidence it’s revenue neutral outside Lord Lamont’s fond wishes. All I can see is typical right-wing trickle-down and supply-side economics, which rightly get hammered time and again by serious economists.

    Given your constant lies about the popularity of socialism, which depend, laughably, on the names of countries you have no standing to do more than whine about this.

    Disrupting, once more, adults talking.

  19. Anon E Mouse

    Leon Wolfson – Please name a single country where people given a choice have chosen Socialism then you may have a point. You can’t and you are wrong and everyone reading this wishes it wasn’t true but they know it is.

    Unlucky Wolfster. Now just man up Wolfy and apologise please….

  20. Leon Wolfson

    Yes, I’m sorry I didn’t call out your lying, BNP-supporting ass sooner.

    And that’s easy – are we talking Democratic Socalism or Social Democracy?

    I mean, quite apart from the fact you’re ignoring Bevan, the entire Nordic model, the socialist international, much of world history and reality as a whole, you’re quite right.

    Oh, wait…

  21. Anon E Mouse

    Leon Wolfson – Please name a single country where people given a choice have chosen Socialism then you may have a point. You can’t and you are wrong and everyone reading this wishes it wasn’t true but they know it is.

    Unlucky Wolfster. Now just man up Wolfy and apologise please….

  22. Panda

    Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p tax reports @wdjstraw

  23. Leon Wolfson

    I did. You didn’t like my answer. Let’s name one for each of my examples then – the UK and Norway.

    And I’m sorry I didn’t call you a pathological liar and racist before.

  24. Eamon Walsh

    RT @leftfootfwd: Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p top tax rate. So Lamont is living in cloud cuckoo land.

  25. George McLean

    @ Leon and Anon

    Calm down, dears, it’s only a comments page! 🙂

    Now … let’s not only keep the 50p rate, let’s also ensure that higher-rate taxpayers pay NICs on all their income by removing the ceiling, let’s not subsidise the pensions of higher-rate taxpayers but only give tax relief at basic rate, and let’s introduce a land value tax and impose fair taxation on second homes. And let’s look at a maximum pay differential in enterprises to distribute the wealth that all workers create.

  26. Why Should You Buy

    As for Boris Johnson he's going to walk it anyway but the real question for Labour is, considering how unp… #wysb

  27. Leon Wolfson


    I’m perfectly calm. Someone shooting at me (I have unfortunately, been there) or a bomb going off nearby (twice) is a reason to get worked up.


    LVT has the major problem that it’s going to replace council tax, no? Well, you’re taking something paid by tenants and putting in onto landlords, who are universally going to pass it on. This means people currently exempt are suddenly paying it, among numerous other difficulties.

    I support a tax on unoccupied property, but not a LVT.

    I also don’t support a *maximum* pay differential, but basing higher-rate tax on not a static value, but on a figure which is affected by both the multiple the wage is of the average in the country, and the average in the company.

    I also believe in taxing unearned income at – at the least – the same rate as salary income, and in making benefits for older people contingent on them actually retiring – with no retirement age any more, I don’t think it’s right that older people still working get bus passes or exemption from NI.

    (This would also take a considerable amount of pressure off the retirement age itself, and mean that richer old people who still work as consultants or directors…)

    I do think we’re in broad agreement on many points, though.

  28. Robert CP

    Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p tax reports @wdjstraw

  29. NextGenerationLabour

    Only a quarter of voters want to scrap the 50p tax rate via @leftfootfwd

  30. Anon E Mouse

    Leon Wolfson – So you’re asking us to believe that after being “ambushed” by a marauding BNP gang twice for being white, you’ve also been shot at and nearly bombed twice as well?

    I have to say that on this blog you’ve claimed because individuals don’t have to use a credit card to use the NHS it’s free and not taxpayer funded and that Socialists can become right wing and still be Socialists and that there are countries in the world where free people’s vote for Socialist systems and that the Incredible Hulk is real.

    You have also said that because I think NHS funds should be used to treat people’s medical needs and not for translation services, that I am a racist which again is nonsense.

    I have stated nothing here that you haven’t said. Have you ever considered that you have a very vivid imagination Wolfster and that perhaps there is something wrong which may need you to get some sort of help?

    When you were shot at did you use some top secret shield to deflect the bullet trajectories or were you too busy activating your “screamer” (I’m not making this up – you said it Wolfy) to fight off the Taliban insurgents in your local Asda?

  31. Selohesra

    @ Leon #4 – as usual you are misinterpreting what I was saying. The point of my comment was that there is nothing remarkable in the survey, the article or the headline. Everyone (well most sane people anyway) knows that some action is required to reduce the deficit – there is popular support for some action to be taken – where everyone falls out is where that action is taken since as soon as someones job or local services is affected they wail that cuts should be made elsewhere. Similarly with tax rises – that there is this apparant support for the 50% tax rate may have some small link to the fact that a lot of the people who are in favour of it will not actually be paying any themselves. Its a version of nimby-ism and demomstrates that most people think of themselves first and thoughts of the greater good come a distant second.

  32. George McLean

    @ 12. Leon Wolfson

    I don’t agree about LVT. The probelm with council tax and similar property-based taxes is that they act as deadweights on the beneficial social use of land, whereas LVT would encourage speculators to develop the land (as permitted in a local plan) appropriately – and most importantly as accommodation. Of course, my (and your?) call for a fairer income tax is deadweight too, but until a tax sych as LVT is up and running, and we can judge at what level it would be imposed, then I think we are all stuck with income tax. The fundamental problem seems to be an unfair distribution of the fruits of labour.

  33. Leon Wolfson

    @14 – Then be more careful with your comments. Except, you then call it NIMBYism and make it plain that I was entirely right, and you FULLY believe that people not paying a tax should have no say in it. You’re not doing a good job convincing me you’re someone who can have a rational debate…

    No, it’s ENTIRELY appropriate for everyone in a society to be able to comment on the structure of the tax system, and how progressive or otherwise it is. You are STILL advocating supply-side and trickle-down, so badly discredited that even far-right economists wince when they’re talked about.

    @15 – Well, how are going to deal with the problem of it raising rents dramatically for those previous exempt to council tax (under a Tory government, no less)? This isn’t a small issue, people like students would end up paying dramatically more, which would exclude even more from studying, or bump up loans…the most vulnerable (claiming council tax benefit) would be hit, etc.

    Note, a scheme where the landlord needs to apply for anything means that the landlord must be cooperative, and know many personal details about his tenants. Given the widespread discrimination against unemmployed and student renters…

    Not to mention that it’d destroy farm profits (a food security issue)
    And the issue with it making living above a shop unaffordable in most LVT-proposals I’ve seen
    And the way it encourages overcrowding and HMO’s

    More, you can’t judge the right rate AFTER it’s up, getting it wrong will cause massive social issues and homelessness. If you want me to support a LVT, I need to see a paper addressing all these and more, and none of them come even close, most don’t even address ONE of them. Not to mention the fact it’s usually pitched as revenue-positive, and will hammer cities if so.

    Until then, I’m sticking with supporting a tax on unearned property, and keeping the current system otherwise (gradualism, yes, but it is part of the core of mutualism)

    And I disagree, the fruits of labour specifically ISN’T the problem. The problem is that unearned income, which is NOT the “fruit of labour” of that person! Let’s start, as I said, by taxing unearned income at – at least – the same level as earned income. This closes a large number of tax dodges, for starters…

  34. Jon Purdom/Paco Saez

    Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p tax reports @wdjstraw

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