Coffee House

Labour’s mansion tax debate won’t be a crunch vote (or very interesting)

16 February 2013

10:59 AM

16 February 2013

10:59 AM

So Labour is going to force a vote in the House of Commons on the mansion tax. It’s the key announcement trailed as part of Ed Miliband’s visit to Eastleigh today, and yet it’s the sort of thing that only really excites people who look forward to hearings of the Public Accounts Committee rather than the average voter who has a more normal perspective on life.

The idea behind these Opposition Day debates is that Labour flushes out any rebels or unhappy Lib Dems, or that its MPs can later tweet ‘Lib Dems voted against their own policy in the Commons tonight #evil #nevertrustalibdemagain’. Miliband says that very thing today:

‘And what about the Lib Dems? There could be a majority in the House of Commons when it votes on our proposal. But only if the Liberal Democrats vote with Labour. Now the Lib Dems say they are in favour of a mansion tax. Well, they once said they were in favour of abolishing tuition fees too.’


But the problem is firstly the one that I detailed above which is that these sorts of debates very rarely make stories and are often quite poorly attended by MPs on all sides. Secondly the motions that the Opposition tables for these debates are often interminably long and so over the top that it’s quite clear no Lib Dems would come wriggling out of the woodwork, even for their beloved mansion tax.

The Lib Dems are already rather amused by the idea. Stephen Williams, the party’s backbench Treasury spokesman in the Commons tells me:

‘Generally Labour MPs vote for Labour motions, and other people do not. They are doing just silly politics, this is the sort of thing that does not appeal to the public.

‘Tony Blair in 1994 and David Cameron in 2005 when he became Tory leader could credibly say I’m a new person, my party needs to change, I’m rebuilding it. But for Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, they were both in government when they abolished the rate, they simply have no credibility. We were talking about the mansion tax before the last election and Labour were trashing it back then.’

So this isn’t going to be what journalists like to call a ‘crunch vote’. The crucial day will of course be the Budget when the Coalition hopes to unveil yet another rise in the personal tax allowance, which as Ryan Bourne explained on Coffee House this week, is a far more effective method of helping low income households through the tax system than a 10p rate + mansion tax set up. The real crunch for the government is whether it’s able to make this case more effectively than Miliband by producing a Budget that doesn’t unravel so it can focus on this policy rather than on a series of U-turns.

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Show comments
  • Tony Quintus

    If the coalition government had any sense they would call a 3 line whip to abstain from the vote and boycott the debate, leave Labour in the chamber talking to themselves and show the country just how little the ranting of the Eds means.

  • Dallas Beaufort

    So, a three bedroom house is now a mansion? Labor’s lowest common denominator goes lower than their own performance.

  • Richard Williams

    I am nearing retirement. I earn £150K+ and live in a £1.75m house. I have created 100+ jobs and paid £60K stamp duty when I bought my house. I paid massive taxes when I sold my business, I’m taxed heavily on income and can’t see an incentive to carry on working. I’d happily start another business (this current one is my second) and create more jobs for young people, but really, why would I do it when it’s easier to pack up and sit at home quietly? Please, someone understand that we need to incentivise people like me to keep taking risks to create jobs for all these young people who aren’t working and would love to be.

    • Boudicca_Icenii

      Well said. I hope you reserve/d the jobs you have/will create for British employees. It can be done legally – you just have to be ‘smart’ about it.

  • David Simpson

    oh i do love to read comments from Tory apologists on here as they have nothing new to say and can only parrot the tory line

    It is about time they grew a pair and look at what is going on in the country. However much they dislike it they had better get used to the fact that Mr Miliband is going to be our next PM

    • HooksLaw

      In his 2008 budget Darling had to pick up the pieces of Browns propaganda ploy to gain the labour leadership the previous year. It cost an extra 2.7 billion (at least) in borrowed money to pay back all the low paid who lost out.

      Brown spent 13 years running budgets to pursue his own political aggrandisement rather than for the good of the country. He remains one of the worst most useless politicians ever to rule over us.

    • 2trueblue

      You are assuming that the total population are brain dead. It is 2+yrs to the next election and somewhere along the line, despite the BBC propaganda which people are fed daily, the country will be further along the recovery cycle. Millipede and Balls will not be able to spin things so easily. As their man L Byrnes note said ‘there is no money left’.

      Liebore broke the country and left no solid infrastructure to assist with the massive debt in all areas. Not alone did they spend money we did not have but they encouraged a spending spree amongst the population. All we heard each week was how much our houses were going up by, now the muppet is talking about taxing on the uplift at the higher end. Of course they would not… it would upset a lot of their own.

      You need to look at the EU, they are behind the curve economically right now.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Labour have nothing new to say and their trolls here can only parrot the Labour line. They are not apologists though because Labour activists and supporters are so arrogant and triumphalist that they never apologise for anything. It is always someone else’s fault. But even using the word apologist shows the line.

      I think I prefer incompetent chancellors to thinly veiled, one-party state fascists, thank you.

    • Fergus Pickering

      He might die.

      • Fergus Pickering

        But I hope not. They might find someone remotely credible. Like… oh I dunno ..

    • Youbian

      No they don’t have to get used to it, we can all leave the country, then who will lay for socialist policies. See what has happened in France.

  • 2trueblue

    Did he steal this from the LibDums?
    For goodness sake the best way to raise money within housing is to create more bands for council tax. Easy to apply, and easy to collect.

  • Field Marshal

    The politics of envy again.
    The crazy Eds made themselves look stupid this week with the 10p tax.
    Either they were part of the incompetence or they were so weak that they could not influence a major policy.
    Now they want to copy the junior coalition partners key policy suggestion.
    It is cause to be pleased that they are making themselves look incompetent.

    • George_Arseborne

      I can see some panicking here!!!!! Ed Milliband just planted a land mine that field marshals are so incompetent that they can not venture the terrain. Run more commentaries

  • HooksLaw

    Its just by election politics and it also shows how shorttermist and short on credibility labour are.
    And surely its a bad idea for labour to debate this in parliament if as one commentator has said they have already promised ‘mansion tax’ money for something else.

    Add to this the number of times Balls has promised a bankers bonus tax for different policies.
    Note that at the time Balls was complaining that the UK economy was growing more slowly than competitors. Now we know that the German economy has contracted by 0.6%.
    No magic bullet for the mess Labour left behind.

  • toco10

    The nonentity that is Red Ed will never be considered as PM material when push comes to shove so his utterances and pretences at policy making are irrelevant.As for the much discredited Ed Balls the public simply loathe him and do not see him as a credible candidate ever to hold the UK’s purse strings.With these two inept and hypocritical politicians we have already sadly experienced the havoc they caused when at the centre of the disastrous Labour Government and they will not be trusted again.

    • Boudicca_Icenii

      Sadly, there are enough tribal Labour voters to deliver a Miliband government by default, since Cameron and the pro-EU CONservative elite decided to deliberately alienate their core voters and to persue their determination to keep us in the EU at all costs.