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Budget 2013: Ed Balls sticks to his favourite 50p attack

20 March 2013

5:49 PM

20 March 2013

5:49 PM

Ed Balls has just given his post-Budget briefing in parliament. The striking thing about Balls, no matter how much you might disagree with him, is how much he relishes these occasions. His whole face lights up, like a large Cheshire cat that has spied a snoozing mouse, as he goes in for the kill. He even went through a list circulated by CCHQ of ‘questions for Labour’. No wonder some Tory MPs wish they had someone on their side who loves the political game as much as the Shadow Chancellor.

Now, Balls had plenty of soundbites: he has calculated that you’d have to drink 50,000 pints of beer a year to make up for the impact on personal income of other tax rises and cuts. And he has an imaginary family where one parent works and the other cares for the two children, with a £20,000 annual salary, which would apparently be £381 worse off this year.

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But what was really interesting was how much emphasis Balls continues to put on the cut to the 50p rate. He told us, rather theatrically, that he had seriously believed the Tories were going to U-turn on it:

‘When I said on the Marr programme to George Osborne, you should not go ahead with the top rate tax cut, I absolutely meant it. Ed Miliband and I sat down yesterday and wrote a full page of his speech of how we would respond to cancelling the 50p tax cut because genuinely we thought if he had any sense, he would.’

Miliband still focused on the 50p in his speech, devoting a considerable section to waving at a stony-faced Tory frontbench and shouting ‘are they getting the 50p rate? Okay, hands up if you’re not getting the 50p tax cut! Come on!’

This obviously shows how potent the decision to cut that rate was: Osborne repeated his justification for it in his speech today. But Labour’s response did sound rather old, as though Miliband was just digging out a stock speech he and Ed Balls have been using ever since 21 March 2012. And the problem for Miliband and Balls, as they get closer to the 2015 general election, is that they can’t keep mocking the government for the decision without addressing whether they’d put the rate back up themselves when they return to government. Given Gordon Brown only had it for a month himself, they might find it rather less attractive when they’re setting out their own fiscal plans.

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Show comments
  • BigAl

    I see Balls wants a U turn on economic policy. Does this mean he is advocating spending within our means and cutting the deficit and debt burden as Osborne is NOT doing this!

  • http://www.facebook.com/steven.efstathiou Steven Efstathiou

    During tonight’s Newsnight, Jeremy Paxman asked his panel a final question. What would the house builder, clothing entrepreneur, Trades Union leader and campaigner against child poverty like to have seen in the Budget. To a man (and three women), they all agreed – a cut in VAT. Funny that…

  • http://twitter.com/Terence_I Terence Hale

    Hi,
    georgie borge pudding and pie kissed the economy and made it cry

  • David B

    Can we all chant its the same old tax, borrow and spend from labour

  • Smithersjones2013

    And he has an imaginary family where one parent works and the other
    cares for the two children, with a £20,000 annual salary, which would
    apparently be £381 worse off this year.

    Does Yvette know about this secret life he has?

    • David B

      Probably paying them out of expenses

      • HookesLaw

        They have enough houses between them and switch often enough

    • HJ777

      I imagine that she’s just glad not to have him around all the time.

  • 2trueblue

    Lovely for Balls and Millipede to rant on and be given so much airtime. Lets forget that these people robbed us of our future. they downgraded everything whilst in power. They were so busy looking after their own affairs, seeing how much they could all steal from us in expenses and house flipping. The countries affairs took second place.
    Our teenager pregnacy figures skyrocketed, youth unemployment soared, even child poverty grew, and all this in a time of so called plenty. The whole country was running on debt and at some point it has to be paid back/balanced. To pick up the bits and create growth with such a backdrop is beyond any party right now.
    But no doubt the BBC, Gaurdian and the rest of Liebores buddies will have great soundbites to help us through and understand just what Liebore could/can to to improve it all. The media had no solutions when it all fell apart and I expect they have none now, just Liebores lies.

    • HookesLaw

      Your point about ‘robbed us of our future’ is well made. The mess they left cannot be cleared by a but of extra ‘stimulus’ to give a bit of fake growth.

    • Makroon

      He can gurn and protest as much as he likes, he stays electorally toxic.

      • 2trueblue

        Hope so.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Balls is just jealous. Osborne has spent all the money!

    And I’d certainly prefer to drink 50,000 pint of beer than have to suffer listening to ‘Piggy’ Balls. He is definitely a throwback to Animal Farm……

    • HookesLaw

      I hope the 50000 figure is wrong because when the tax on beer goes up the pubs add about 5 or 10p.
      So hopefully the price will drop by at least 5p.

      (yes I know I’m being naive)

  • andagain

    Of course, if they had introduced that mansion tax this attack line would have had no force. But what can you expect from the millionaire homeowners party.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Asset taxes are the last refuge of (Liberal) despots and dictators. Its nothing more than institutional looting!

      • andagain

        Like council taxes, and rents before them?

        • Smithersjones2013

          Yep!

          Tell me should the price of a haircut be based on the value of your car?

          • HookesLaw

            Where were you when the poll tax needed defending?

            Property taxes are not just confined to the UK.
            A house is easy to find and tax.

    • David B

      Going for the Cyprus option then. Bit the hand that feeds the country

      • andagain

        Restricting planning permission for other houses, than watching the value of your own house go up does not create wealth and does not, in any sense, feed the country.

  • http://twitter.com/MisterQuintus Tony Quintus

    And once again Ball gets beaten back down with “Still higher than it ever was under Labour”

    • Daniel Maris

      What are you on about?

      • Russell

        Do keep up, didn’t you near the budget speech. Osborne was correctly pointing out that tax on the ‘rich’ has been higher than in EVERY year of labours time in government.
        If the Tories repeated this as much as labour repeat the misrepresentation of a housing benefit reform as a ‘bedroom tax’, even the IQ2’s might get it.

        • modern_class_warfare_3

          And that’s not a good thing. It was like listening to a robber bragging about how many people he robbed. Revolting.

          The Chancellor should talk about how hard he works to let people keep as much of their own money as possible, and how hard he fights to ensure that every penny spent by the state is nothing short of excellent value for the tax payer.

        • Mynydd

          But who beleaves Osborne?

        • Daniel Maris

          Yep, it’s a soundbite.

    • http://twitter.com/leonsteed Leon Steed

      On the other hand, “higher tax than it ever was under Labour” sounds like another reason to vote UKIP for many people.

      • HookesLaw

        UKIP speaking for the (rich) people then?
        You misrepresent what Russell says. ie ‘Rich’
        Today we see the tax allowance rising to £10k – helping the poor.

        • Vrai Telemachus

          lol. you are dense. all the main three parrties speak fpr the rich. they are the rich and the aspiring rich after all. animal farm.

          • http://www.facebook.com/vrai.telemachus.5 Vrai Telemachus

            Click on above
            Not via facebook

        • http://twitter.com/leonsteed Leon Steed

          UKIP’s policy is to merge income tax and national insurance into a flat tax of 31% on incomes over £11,500. To many natural Conservative voters, this is a much more attractive policy than “higher tax on the rich than it ever was under Labour”.

          • HookesLaw

            The basic rate if income tax is already effectively 31% so as I said UKIP are peddling themselves as the party of the selfish rich.
            Employers of course pay a large amount of NI.

            Has UKIP thought about the self employed? They would face a tax rise of 3%
            There would also be problems relating to pensions contributions for the self employed.
            Anyone who does not pay NI but still has an income (and hence pays
            income tax) could also lose out if a tax integration went through. This
            would include pensioners and those that live off savings.

            Does the gray vote realise what those nice people from UKIP have in store?

    • modern_class_warfare_3

      I think it shows real moral cowardice for Cameron and Osborne to go with “45% is higher than under Labour”.

      They were cowards not to cancel the 50p rate completely.

      People earning 150k are not “millionaires”. That’s left-wing doublespeak. Making 7.5k a month doesn’t make one a millionaire – makes one unable to buy a 3-bedroom semi-detached or town house in any good area of London, without serious external help.

      Not least, it’s simply immoral to take so much money from people. Doesn’t matter what they earn – it’s not the government’s to take. After adding all the taxes, middle-class earners are today extorted of 60-70% of their wages. For nearly nothing of any value, as they have to pay for private health care and private education.

      • HookesLaw

        Point taken and indeed ‘People earning 150k are not “millionaires”‘. however they have more money that people on 25k. So who do you go to when you need money?

        • Graham Cowking

          They do pay more money – 45% versus 20% is more than twice the rate (excluding NI). They would be paying more if they were both on the same rate; they are certainly paying more on the graduated rates.

  • Archimedes

    “His whole face lights up, like a large Cheshire cat that has spied a snoozing mouse, as he goes in for the kill.”

    Yeh, that’s kind of the problem. I have to hand it to him, he has certainly done very well in modulating his voice to sound sympathetic, but as long as he continues to go wide-eyed with that twinkle in his eyes, people will continue to smell a disingenuous politician. With a little more scrutiny of him, Labour would be doing a lot worse in the polls. People might dislike George Osborne, but he seems genuine.

    • http://www.facebook.com/vrai.telemachus.5 Vrai Telemachus

      As you say Ed Balls is a superstar

      • Smithersjones2013

        Oh you’re such a groupie!

    • 2trueblue

      He is rarely challenged by any real interviewer and the BBC does a very good job of giving him so much airtime.

    • Mike Barnes

      Yeah, genuinely incompetent.

  • toco10

    Not only are Balls and Red Ed old and steeped in failure but they are old hat and very old Labour.As the dysfunctional and erratic Gordon Brown’s henchmen alongside the disgraced Damian McBride they are responsible for the financial mess left for the coalition to sort out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/vrai.telemachus.5 Vrai Telemachus

      Actually no
      They created the boom that led to major investments, not least in health and education
      Lehman and US subprime explain the recession
      Osborne has triggered his own subprime bribing those who can I’ll afford the repayments with 20% of a new house

      • Ostrich (occasionally)

        Actually no
        Ken Clarke created the boom. But there’s always a time-lag in such things, so the effects were just starting to be noticed by 1997.

        But I’m sure you’re more comfortable with your (per)version of history.

        • vrai telemachus

          Sorry.
          You are correct. I have a bit of a headache and im finding it hard to think clearly.

          Time for my medication.

          • http://www.facebook.com/vrai.telemachus.5 Vrai Telemachus

            Oh dear
            I am stalked
            Facebook

        • http://www.facebook.com/vrai.telemachus.5 Vrai Telemachus

          Glad to see the vicar lets you out occasionally
          Facebook

        • Nele Schindler

          No frigging politician ‘creates’ a boom.

          A boom is created by the hard-working, by entrepreneurs, people pulling their weight. The best any politician can do is NOT STAND IN THE WAY, a rather simple art the ins and outs of which have been forgotten by the current crop of chancers.

      • HookesLaw

        Rubbish.

        Labour spent money all right but they still did not balance the budget the deficit went up even as they spent so to say they created a boom which paid for anything is a plain lie.

        Start calling your self Mendacii Telemachus.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Ken Clarke. John Major’s Chancellor. John Major. Margaret Thatcher’s Chancellor. Margaret Thatcher. Ah, I knew we would get there in the end.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Sorry Hookes Law. That was for Ostrich.

      • David B

        Can you tell me what percentage of the Nothern Rock loan book was to the US sub prime market.

        • http://www.facebook.com/vrai.telemachus.5 Vrai Telemachus

          I bet if you examined the books they will have had securitised products in common

          • David B

            And I think you are grasping at straws. Northern Rock lent exclusively in the UK prime market only, They failed because they relied on wholesale money market that took fright at the UK housing market

            • Wessex Man

              I just cannot believe that anyone would bother to stalk Telemachus on Facebook or even in his own kitchen in fact Tele zzzzzzzzzzzz

              • David B

                You have to have a bit of fun with Tele, he repeats his mantra’s where fact is irrelevant. He has gone back to “It was all the fault of the US” . This is so far from reality it is frightening and the facts need to be put down.

                He also comments on LabourList and I used to comment there until I was blocked by the site because I was willing to disagree with them. Tele needs called out and the stupidity in his positions pointed out, but The Spectator must continue to prove that is an open debating forum and not block him, unlike the insular left.

    • 2trueblue

      Can you tell the BBC, please. They have no idea what is going on and have no idea how it all fell apart.

      • toco10

        I have been pointing out for ages how the BBC news hacks use companies to channel earnings so as to avoid National Insurance by paying themselves dividends rather than salaries,pay remuneration to friends and family,claim expenses against income most of us can only dream about etc.etc and worst of all slating people such as bankers and lawyers for being greedy when these BBC millionaires are at a trough not generally available to the average citizen.All perfectly legal but to use a word these self serving licence fee gobblers throw around with alarcrity a touch ‘hypocritical’.So 2trueblue methinks the champagne socialist news editors and their millionaire news hacks at the BBC are most unlikely to be interested in anything observations I may have to offer.

        • 2trueblue

          Even the queen got the ‘bug letter’ when she wrote to them!

        • http://twitter.com/jackjoh01219520 jack johnson

          There are plenty of Tories at the BBC but no socialists of any kind.
          That can be seen by their biased reports and interviews.

    • Makroon

      Yeah, Isabel is obviously fascinated by the bloke.
      She needs to ask herself a simple question; would you really like this sleazebucket chancer to be managing the nation’s finances ?

      • HookesLaw

        Would you buy a used car from him?

      • http://twitter.com/TheRedBladder The Red Bladder

        “Would you really like this sleazebucket chancer to be managing the nation’s finances?” You omitted the word “another”.

  • http://twitter.com/Shinsei1967 Nick Reid

    To give Gordon Brown his due he knew he was putting the Tories in an impossible situation when he persuaded Darling to include it in Labour’s last budget. 50p is so clearly the wrong rate of top rate of tax for a trading nation like the UK that relies on attracting thousands of high paid professionals from all over the globe.

    However the Tories have been abject in their defence of reducing the top rate. It’s rather as if they hoped that it would just go away after a year and that by 2015 everyone would have moved on. Clearly they have little idea that Labour play a hard game.

    Raising capital gains tax, reducing pension tax relief for the rich, bonus clawbacks for bankers etc. All these arguments should have been rallied to show that the rich were paying more than their fair share but in such a way that boosted UK jobs and investment, not scared it away.

    • HookesLaw

      I suspect we have not seen the last of income tax cuts from Osborne.

    • Daniel Maris

      Last time I checked, the STANDARD rate of income tax in Sweden (whose government’s fiscal management Fraser recommends) was nearly 50%.

      Last time I checked, Sweden was a trading nation.

      Last time I checked, Sweden’s economy was performing much better than our own.

      The idea that the rich and well off pay too much income tax is one of the great lies of this government.

      We are in the worst financial crisis in 80 years. It makes sense for the better off to pay more in tax.

      • HookesLaw

        45p plus other NI contributions puts out tax pretty high too.

        Sweden have payroll taxes of over 30%.

      • Vrai Telemachus

        graduated income tax was invented by the social democrats to bring about revolutionary conditions. and it manfestly works, thank Balls.

        • Andy

          Rather not if you don’t mind. Just had my breakfast.

      • modern_class_warfare_3

        @danielmaris:disqus And Sweden sucks. I never heard of anyone who wants to make money – or anything else for that matter – in Sweden. There’s hardly anything worth talking about in Sweden.

        • Daniel Maris

          Go tell Fraser then, who seems to think his semi-adopted country is well run and something of a model for us to follow.

      • Smithersjones2013

        Yes that is Sweden the centre of the industrial and financial universe is it?

      • HJ777

        Income tax rates in Sweden are a combination of local and national taxes. Property taxes are, consequently, much lower than our Council Tax.

        Of course, one key difference is that in Sweden they have far fewer monopoly tax-funded public services. Much tax is, in effect redistributed back to people to make their own choices when it comes to schools, medical care, etc. This is why they score relatively highly on indices of economic freedom.

        The other key difference is that although public spending is high, they run a fiscally tight ship unlike the mess Brown left us with.

      • http://twitter.com/Shinsei1967 Nick Reid

        Stockholm isn’t full of lots of non-Swedish high paid professionals. Unlike London.

      • Andy

        Ah so you don’t pay enough tax ?? Well, there is a very simple solution.

        I’m sure you can work out how much more tax you should be paying, so kindly send a cheque, made payable to HM Revenue & Customs only, to HM Revenue & Customs, Bradford, BD98 1YY.

        They will be happy to receive your kind donation.

      • Fergus Pickering

        But 45% is nearly 50%, isn’t it?

    • 2trueblue

      Brown and his crew, Balls, Darling, Millipede, were a totally unpleasant, spiteful lot who cared not a jot for the electorate. They made no provision over the 13yrs for our fuel safety, what a bunch of total s…s.

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