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Audio: What Harriet Harman said about tax

16 July 2014

16 July 2014

At PMQs David Cameron attacked Ed Miliband for his deputy Harriet Harman’s comments, made on an LBC phone-in show on Monday, that she wanted to see higher taxes on middle-income earners.

What exactly did she say? Here’s the quote – with audio below:-

Caller: ‘I would like to know what you are going to do to help the middle classes of England, Britain. I really do feel the middle class contribute the most and take out the least. I will be honest I am a staunch Conservative, hand on heart but if Labour came up with one policy that would genuinely help me out I would vote for them.’

Iain Dale: ‘Like what?’

Caller: ‘Well my suggestion would be if I lost my job the government would pay, say I have been working for 2 years the government would match my wage for 3 months afterwards. Give me some security.’

Harriet Harman: ‘Well I think that is a very interesting point actually Henry because sometimes people feel that they pay in a lot over a long period of time working hard but when they suddenly need unemployment benefit if they lose their job that actually it is nowhere near enough to actually make them feel that it was worth it for them to contribute. And one of the things that we are talking about is making a higher rate the longer you’ve worked to recognise the contributions you’ve paid in if you lose your job. But I would say Henry one of the things that I would argue that might, should probably make a really big difference to you is having a really good health service. Because you don’t want to have to pay for health insurance., You don’t want to have to pay to go private to get really good healthcare system. And I think that is not just for working class people it’s for middle class people as well. And the same with education, you know, really good school system that helps people from lower income families and middle income families as well so I think that actually the idea that there are some things that help people on low incomes and other that help people on middle incomes. Yes I think people on middle incomes should contribute more through their taxes. But actually they need those public services like the transport system.’

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Show comments
  • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

    I can’t understand why British politicians have reverted to type ie the culture of class. Nobody wants to talk about being ordinary members of the general public.

  • The Masked Marvel

    The true belief system of the Progressive, neo-Marxist Left on display. No middle class wanted, despite the claims. The real desire is for an elite ruling class over the happy masses.

  • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

    She clearly offers additional benefits for more taxes.

  • Aberrant_Apostrophe

    Harriet hasn’t quite grasped the simple fact that income tax is a proportion of someones earning. So, if person A earns twice what person B earns then they pay twice as much tax. OK, I’m ignoring the effect of personal tax allowances, but I’m also ignoring tax credits and that person B may fall into the higher tax bracket(s).

  • Smithersjones2013

    Harman is the most idiotic politician in Westminster.

  • Holly

    ‘Well, Labour were in government for well over a decade, and we invested millions on buildings and staff salaries. We put together a network of target driven faceless managers and quangos, so the buck would not land at the Health Secretary’s door.

    These target driven faceless managers and quangos did what they were employed to do, and many targets were hit time and time again, by the higher paid staff working in nice new PFI hospitals.

    The downside of course is that proper care and compassion was sacrificed, leading to suffering, and in many cases deaths. However, we still believe that the Tory-led government is in crisis, because they are putting patients at the heart of their NHS policies, and missing the targets, we in the Labour party managed to successfully hit time and time again’.
    Under my Labour government, If the target for someone to be seen is for, ten minutes, they will bee seen for ten minutes, they will not be seen for nine minutes or eleven minutes….Target hit’.

    ‘We did pretty much the same for all areas in public services’.

  • Gizzard Puke

    Ms Harman is incredibly rich herself I believe er like Red Ed!

    • Andy

      You forgot to mention the Tax Avoidance of the Miliband family.

  • HookesLaw

    Harmans comment about the health service (amongs other things) is stupid. The French system is a public system but paid out of compulsory insurance. Employers pay it as well. This is no different to tax, yet she says we shouldn’t pay ‘insurance’. The whole foundation of the NHS was built on ‘insurance’ as was unemployment benefit.

    • Alexsandr

      insurance would have built up an asset base to pay out claims. NI is a con. because the government spend it as current expenditure hoping that they will have income in later years to cover claims then. In private business thats a Ponzoi scheme. Its all going to go t1ts up when the baby boomers retire in large numbers in the next few years, stopping paying NI and claiming state pension at the same time.

  • HookesLaw

    Why should tax payers pay a full wage to someone for 3 months if they have lost their job? That after 2 years? Thats six weeks paid holiday a year. On the taxpayer.

    The opposite is true – you should wait a few weeks befor beginning to claim. The point about insurance, which is what NI contributions are, is that you hope never to have to draw on it. We pay car insurance but do not have an accident every 2 years just to claim it back.

    • Alex

      IMHO someone who has been earning middling wages for a while should have rainy day savings for such an eventuality as losing their job. I suspect most people throughout history have followed that sensible, self-reliant system.
      But the UK benefits systems punishes savers and rewards the feckless so there is a huge incentive to blow all your money and then expect the taxpayer to bail you out. Why save for a rainy day when you can mug the taxpayers to get an umbrella?

    • Alexsandr

      NI is not insurance. where is the policy that says what you are entitles to. Where has my NI that was supposed to pay me SERPS and graduated pensions gone -stolen.
      Its a tax to pay for stuff the government wants to give you. It should be rolled into income tax or at least called employment tax.

  • realfish

    Caller: ‘Well my suggestion would be if I lost my job the government would pay, say I have been working for 2 years the government would match my wage for 3 months afterwards. Give me some security.’

    Harman: ‘Well I think that is a very interesting point actually Henry…..And one of the things that we are talking about is making a higher rate the longer you’ve worked to recognise the contributions you’ve paid in if you lose your job…’

    That sounds suspiciously choreographed to me. Staunch Conservative, my foot.

    Harman can even screw up a rigged phone call.

    BTW: This wonderful education system, she describes. Just where did she send her son to school? (the Son who is earmarked for a safe Labour seat…one where he can top the all women shortlist like his Dad)

  • Tony_E

    The problem for Labour is that they will want to spend more than the Conservatives. That’s a simple fact because their voters want this to happen, and lots believe that there is a large well of money that is untapped.

    The very wealthy, due to the globalised market, can just shift their wealth to another tax jurisdiction, even one inside the EU (which we are absolutely powerless to stop under the treaty Of Rome). Corporates, under EU law, have a masive advantage in tax competitiveness over the small guy too, they can base themselves anywhere in the EU (Luxembourg for example).

    So that leaves the next band down – the entrepreneurs, small businessmen, the self employed professional class and the middle classes. Because this is a large group, and largely immobile, they are the only target any government of any colour can possibly hit.

    And that’s what will happen. Harman let her guard down and said something she shouldn’t have done. How you interpret it is largely irrelevant, because in the end the need for higher funding will force the issue out into the open anyway.

  • Ordinaryman

    More than they’re already paying, or more than those with a lower income?? I’m not sure, so am unable to make much sense of what she was getting at, other than, one way or another, she wants to hit the middle-class for the extra money they will need.

    • con

      quelle surprise.
      opening shots in the labour manifesto? extra tax, not just on the rich, but milibean’s ‘squeezed middle’.

  • David B

    Oh dear! That is the real voice of the left talking – “We need to take more money of you and spend it on your behalf because you are not cleaver enough to know what to spend it on and we have to tell you!”

    Vote Labour for higher taxes. Vote Labour if you have no aspiration!

    • Alexsandr

      she could have told him to take put private unemployment insurance rather than wanting to grab more of his money.
      but then this harridan knows best because she is westminster bubble elite.
      bloke should have asked her about paedophiles, seeing she supported them.

      • David B

        Labour just could not suggest a private sector solution to an opportunity to tax and spend in a bloated public sector

    • Redrose82

      Vote labour if you are an idiot or on benefits.

  • Andrew Smith

    A man asks a question – what are you going to do for me, I need/want X. Ms Harmann replies: “I know what’s best for you, you need P, Q and R.” Condescension, arrogance, nannyism or just plain don’t care? Middle class, non-state employee voters should really think twice before deciding who to vote for.

    • telemachus

      All should think of the moral dimension before voting for a PM that deliberately distorts

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Gordon Brown is no longer Prime Minister Lad because you could only be referring to that amoral scumbag.

        • telemachus

          “The Labour Party wants to cut taxes for middle and low earners. Harriet Harman was clearly talking about the tax system as it is now where people on lower incomes pay less tax. It is deeply dishonest of David Cameron to suggest otherwise.”

          • Inverted Meniscus

            When will you Labour Fascists tire of spending other people’s money?

          • Alexsandr

            you muppet. of course a possible liebour government in 2015 will raise taxes and increase borrowing. Without an ever expanding state sector, what are labour for?

          • Kitty MLB

            Someone once said. The issue with Labour is
            that there will always be someone elses money
            to spend and that there will always be someone
            who wants what another has earned…who
            was it darling wasp?

          • ErictheHorse

            Poor people living in poor areas have been voting Labour for 100 years now: they are still poor and still living in poor areas. the only logical conclusion is that Labour is either completely incompetent or it is just using these people for its own end, which do you think it is?

            The main dishonesty is the conspiracy of delusion, whereby Labour MPs say they are looking after the interests of the working class and the working class agree with them despite the evidence to the contrary. If you cannot see that Labour is build on lies and hypocrisy then you are not looking.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Slither back down the page where you belong.

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Harperson agreed with him she shouted ” its true” during PMs questions.

    • HookesLaw

      The depressing thing about the exchange is it was built around wanting something; entitlement.

      • Kitty MLB

        Indeed.Labour also believe they are entitled to feed
        the bloated benefits system with money taken from
        Ed Miliband’s already squeezed middle.

  • McRobbie

    So HH wants a really good health care sysem and a really good education system for all….. but the only plan labour ever have to “improve” services is to throw money at them… be more accurate to throw money at public sector salaries…so there is only one interpretation of her desire…increase taxes…including on the middle classes.

  • toco10

    Utter disaster for Red Ed and Labour.Middle income earners always pay more than those less fortunate than themselves and are happy to do so-Harman is saying they should pay even more!I am afraid John O’Neill you have totally misread this debate and should retract your incorrect piece with appropriate apologies.

    • telemachus

      The Westminster village were titillated
      In the real world folks know who stands for the poor, the disadvantaged and the squeezed middle

      • realfish

        Yes. Labour, who created so many of them and who seek political advantage in keeping them in theirplace.
        Aspiration, self sufficiency and self determination is the mortal enemy of Socialism.

        • telemachus

          Aspiration, self sufficiency and self determination is the lifeblood of Socialism.
          Couldn’t agree more

          • Inverted Meniscus

            No lies, lying, liars, failure, mediocrity and incompetence are the essence of the Fascist Labour Party.

            • westerby1

              I was not aware IDS had switched sides. Seriously though, ALL politicians lie in order to get us to vote for them. I am neither a lefty or a righty (is there such a word?) There have been good, and bad, ideas and policies, from both of the main parties, over my 59 years. It is fine people talking about aspiration, self sufficiency, self determination etc, but why only attribute those things to those on the right, whilst believing those on the left do not have any of these qualities? What about people who develop serious illnesses early on in life, before they have had a chance to earn good money and pay into any sort of insurance scheme? All they will have to rely on is sickness benefit from their NI contributions. Are you seriously saying they did not try hard enough?

              My son, a maths graduate, studied at York with a young man who, in my son’s words, was a genius with great potential, in his third year, this gifted young man developed schizophrenia and was unable to finish his studies. He has been hospitalized on an off for the last 3 years, and receives sickness benefit. His mum has had to give up work to care for him (his dad died years ago) Do you think this lad did not have aspiration or try hard enough?

              At the other end of the spectrum is an old school friend’s son. My friend inherited money from her mum’s side of the family, she opened a business with it in the 80’s and did well. She is “comfortable” financially. Her son, not a very bright lad, was always getting into trouble as a youngster and left school with no qualifications. My friend has set him up in 4 businessess, all of which have gone belly up. He is 30 now, does not work and lives with her. He does not need to claim benefits. He will probably inherit a tidy little sum when his parents die. So in your eyes does this make him an OK chap?

              I know which of the two I would say had aspiration, self determination and had tried to become self sufficient.

          • DWWolds

            That statement is so obviously untrue you must have a sense of humour hidden somewhere. Or perhaps you just had too much of the vino with your lunch.

          • Kitty MLB

            Oh not ‘self determination ‘again! This is
            so robotic and repetative.

          • Aberrant_Apostrophe

            Who in their right mind wants to ‘aspire’ to earn more, only for it to be stolen in increasing levels by the Government by those who don’t have such ‘aspirations’? Or do you mean a Socialist Government should ‘aspire’ to make everyone equal by removing any incentive to do well as individuals. The only snag is they’d also have to make all the benefit layabouts get off their ar*es* and work.

          • global city

            No it’s not!

            State control of a centrally planned command economy is the obsession of British socialists…. on principle.

            That is why they will round like a pack of dogs on people who point out obscenities happening (usually to the sick poor) in the NHS.

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Well let’s face it, Fascist Labour is excellent at impoverishing people and ruining their lives.

      • Kitty MLB

        I assume it wasn’t those who left the note saying
        there’s no money left, we spent it.The same bunch
        who sold all our gold and left us in a leaky boat
        without any paddles.

  • telemachus

    Cameron has been caught out with obfuscation as bad as frank lies
    On National Television
    He should be called back by the Speaker to apologise

    • Colonel Mustard

      This is about what Harmon said. Take your deflection ruse script back to the smelly little online Labour troll cell you work in and stuff it very firmly where the sun doesn’t shine.

    • David B

      You know all about Obfuscation!

    • con

      you’re going to divert attention from harperson’s planned tax grab with garbage like that, pal.

    • Tony_E

      Look – Squirrel!!

  • Dan Grover

    As handy as this quote was, I think it’s pretty clear that what she means is that those on middle incomes should contribute more “than those on lower incomes”, not “more than they do now”

    • sarahsmith232

      Was going to make the same comment, you beat me to it.
      So what can we glean from Cameron trying to spin it? Prob’ that he believes we’re all morons that wont immediately be able to see through his ruse. So is this his preferred election strategy? Spin, smears and outright deceit aimed squarely at the almost retarted? I suspect it might be.

      • CoinneachCu

        Sorry Sarah. Labour do want the middle classes to pay more tax – always have, always will.

        • sarahsmith232

          I know dear, absolutely agree. Was just reading about what they’ll prob’ get up to if they can manage to get their hands of pensioners savings, they’re depraved, they’re disgusting, it’s unjustifiable.
          But reading her quote, this wasn’t her admitting to it, just admitting that she believes that the MC should be contributing more IN COMPARISON to people earning peanuts. Not specifically stating that MC should rise in comparison. You could read it as a vindication of the ratio that Labour set up last time in power. So, it could be said that she was saying that that ratio is fine and should remain in place, so no increase.
          If Cameron was an actual real politician, not just some blowing in the focus group driven wind, standing for absolutely zero, politician, he could have gone for them on the amount of people that are working part time because it’s not in their financial interest to work longer than 16hrs pw. (Benefit cap was only a smoke and mirrors policy, no such thing as it, only applies to people doing no work. If they work 16hrs they can still claim silly amounts of money). Suppose he’d have to tailor it a bit, try to say that they’re trying to get something done about it but they don’t want to introduce too many welfare reforms at once, so out of heartfelt consideration for the welfare of the welfare claimants they’ve put that reform on hold, type thing.
          That would have been a real assault, ’cause the MC are contributing more is ’cause Labour’s – ‘most people who are on benefits are in work’ line is due to this.

        • monty61

          Funnily enough that’s precisely (in relative terms – what Hatty the Harridan was saying in the quote) what Dave & chums have been visiting upon the middle classes for the last few years – take more people out of tax at the bottom, and a greater relative burden goes on the next lot up.

          Of course we are then immediately into definitions of middle class – if you have a job and don’t get the majority of your income via handouts, it seems you are automatically middle class these days, so vast has the handout zone become.

          • HookesLaw

            Labour left a massive deficit that needs to be plugged.

          • Alexsandr

            they talk about the ‘rich’ but no definition of what ‘rich’ is.
            is £40k rich cos thats when 40% tax kicks in. £40K and your marginal rate of tax is over 60% if you include employers NI.

            • MrsDBliss

              This is particularly bad for traditional families. It means their 40K does not go as far as two incomes of 20K who will be taxed less, but get more benefits.

        • Mynydd

          Even under this conservative government the middle classes pay more tax.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            And yet another lie.

      • telemachus

        As I said below Cameron was caught out with obfuscation as bad as frank lies

        He should be called back by the Speaker to apologise
        And while I think of it what a motley crew of has beens were camped out on the Front Bench at PMQ’s

        • Colonel Mustard

          And as I said below this is about what Harmon said. Take your deflection ruse script back to the smelly little online Labour troll cell you work in and stuff it very firmly where the sun doesn’t shine.

          • telemachus

            Yes the totality of what Harriet said

            • Inverted Meniscus

              Yes what a nasty little fascist she is forever trying to regulate people’s lives and spend their money.

    • sir_graphus

      That isn’t how I read it. What she was saying to the fellow was a double no;
      * no we’re not going to make the welfare state any more useful to the middle classes
      * we are actually going to increase taxes on middle earners to pay for all our sacred cows.
      The nearest I’ve read to a politician being honest in a long time.

      • Dan Grover

        I’m curious about what bit of it made you read it like that. The entire passage is about how she understands that a lot of middle class people feel like they pay more in but don’t get more out – she then went on to reaffirm that she thinks it’s fair that middle income people pay more (DING DING DING the quote). I don’t really see how it could – if you’ve read the context – be made to suggest that she wants it to be higher than it is.

        Maybe she *DOES* want it to be higher than it is, but if so, there’s not much evidence of it in this passage.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          Put it this way, do you honestly believe that idiot is interested in reducing the tax burden of middle income earners?

        • Holly

          Why didn’t she just say that she thinks it is fair that the middle classes are paying more, instead of that they should pay more?
          More than what?

      • HookesLaw

        Correct. She did not say yes you can have your sinicure she said we want to spend more of your money on the NHS. In truth the NHS was used just as an easy example for more taxes. All she said was the higher paid get the same NHS as the lower paid so be grateful.

        • Alexsandr

          the higher paid use BUPA. and still pay NI

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Or stupid.

    • con

      no, we all know exactly what she meant.
      despite all the bs about tax cuts for millionaires, she’s seen the numbers and knows the increase in tax from 40% to 50% and then back to 45% has produced zero extra tax.
      as ever, labour will hit the middle class, most of whom can’t escape paye.

    • Nkaplan

      Much as I dislike Harman I can only agree with your reading – that’s exactly how I understood it when reading the paragraph quoted, and in context its perfectly plain what she meant.

      Why is the PM engaging in the disreputable tactics of the left and deliberately distorting what someone has said?

      • Harold Angryperson

        “The brutes have learned something.”
        – Napoleon Bonaparte

    • Bo Williams

      It’s Harriet Harman talking. Of course she wants to increase taxes on the middle-class. There are not enough “rich” people to pay for all Labour’s schemes.

    • Andy

      It is pretty clear that Harperson thinks that the middle classes should pay more tax. She doesn’t say anything else does she.

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