Tory press side with the rich over Labour’s ‘war on non-doms’

Bogus fears of rich people fleeing the country reveal the newspapers' class allegiances


While the Conservative party, via the blimpish figure of defence secretary Michael Fallon, aims its guns at Labour’s (actually settled) position on Trident, the Tory press has mobilised its heavy weapons against Labour’s pledge to tax non-domiciles if elected in May. But the papers’ efforts are hampered by some massive contradictions, not to say hypocrisies, and inadvertently reveal their class allegiances.

Last night’s free Evening Standard ran with ‘London backlash over Ed’s non-dom attack’ on its front page, telling commuters that ‘furious business chiefs’ were accusing Miliband of ‘risking London’s global success’ by driving away the rich.

Standard non-doms

Today’s Telegraph front page yells that Labour’s policy could ‘spark an exodus’ of tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, while its editorials warn Labour’s war on non-doms could ‘cost Britain dear’.

The coverage also stresses that there is already an annual levy that non-doms have to pay, introduced by the Labour party in 2008 at £30,000 per year, with George Osborne in December saying he’ll raise to up to £90,000. (The Telegraph even suggests Labour stole the idea of a levy from Osborne in the first place.)

But this accidentally raises the question: why didn’t the annual levy cause non-doms to flee the country? Was the Tory chancellor also showing ‘contempt for wealth creation’ when he pledged to treble the charge four months ago?

At the same time, the papers say Labour’s tax plan won’t raise much money anyway. Well, if that’s the case, why say non-doms will leave Britain to avoid paying it?

Another bizarre part of the attack has been the claim these 114,000 non-dom pay billions in taxes into the treasury already – £8.2billion in 2012/13, or the equivalent of all the tax revenues for 10 million lower-band taxpayers. As the Daily Mail leader column puts it, “more than treble the £2.3billion contribution made by the 25 per cent lowest income tax payers.”

The Telegraph broadened the scope:

“Moreover, to say that the rich don’t pay their ‘fair share’ is confounded by the fact that nearly 30 per cent of income tax comes from the top 1 per cent of earners.”

Ah, the poor old 1 per cent! Occasionally, the Tory press lets slip their worship of wealth and resentment of progressive taxation. Some of us still believe people who have more should pay more. 

Speaking of the Daily Mail, it’s very interesting that the paper stops short of joining the Sun in criticising the ‘ridiculous’ hereditary passing-on of non-dom status from parent to child. On an unrelated note, in January Private Eye reported that Daily Mail chairman Jonathan Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere, who inherited non-dom status from his father, channelled hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of dividends through a trust registered in Bermuda.

Predictably, Labour’s proposal has earned it fiery editorials in the Tory press, (in marked contrast to the papers’ support for taking money away from poor people). The Telegraph writes: “If Mr Miliband is prepared to kill the golden goose for a cheap election stunt he is even less qualified to run this country than we thought.”

The Mail said “the Labour leader is playing a dangerous, disingenuous and dishonest game“, while the Sun said Miliband

“doesn’t give a damn if it works for Britain as long as it sounds good for Labour. […] What’s crucial to Miliband is securing Labour votes with his absurd pose as a class warrior against the rich.”

What they keep missing is that Ed Miliband is willing to adopt policies that risk upsetting his party’s doners, (some of whom are non-doms), if he thinks they will appear fair to the electorate. As these strange responses show, it’s not Miliband’s ‘class warrior pose’ but progressive politics itself the Tory press considers absurd.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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10 Responses to “Tory press side with the rich over Labour’s ‘war on non-doms’”

  1. Godfrey Paul

    An ill judged policy by Milibean and Balls.

  2. Cole

    Really? I’ll bet they’re massively popular as the present rules are absurd and unjustifiable – except in the minds of weirdo and out-of-touch Tories.

  3. David Lindsay

    I feel for the poor, confused Tories.

    On the one hand, they want to defend an arrangement unique to Britain that enables you to inherit a tax benefit, but only through your father, and even then only if he was married to your mother, with the benefit itself being useless unless you happened to be seriously loaded on an international scale.

    On the other hand, your father’s ancestor who first acquired that benefit has to have been an immigrant (originally, of all things, French), and the system has contributed to creating today’s London where part of the South of England used to be.

    It is a true dilemma for the Tories. A very true dilemma indeed.

  4. blarg1987

    How is it though? If non doms bring investment into the UK they still get taxed at UK rates for brining their money over here (unless that is a lie of course), it will help simplify the tax system which makes sense, and potentially closes down a loop hole in the tax laws.

    If people don’t like it they can leave however leaving comes with a cost to them, and me thinks they would rather accept this change then go somewhere else where they do not have as much leway as they do here.

  5. Leon Wolfeson

    Yea, how dare the rich pay tax.

  6. TruthBeatsLies

    Not that it makes a hap’orth of difference, but the majority of these non-doms are NOT ‘entrepreneurs’ at all. And those who are can pay-up and/or take what’s left of their ill-gotten gains with ’em on the way out.

  7. TruthBeatsLies

    How dare they, indeed – Harrumph…!!!

  8. Keith M

    Tax em till the pips squeak.

  9. Leon Wolfeson

    Pfft. Just tax em like *anyone else*.

  10. Alan59

    Vote UKIP !

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