What does it mean to be rich? That’s the question already getting the Labour party into a tangle as it struggles to get its act together ahead of the snap general election. Yesterday, John McDonnell said a Labour government would send a higher tax bill the way of all workers earning over £70,000. The shadow chancellor said simply that those earning more than that amount were ‘rich’ and should ‘pay their way more’. A straightforward policy, you might think. But today, it seems, there is already confusion in the ranks. Emily Thornberry on the Today programme aimed her fire at the ‘elite’ – doing her best to define this group as those who ‘take the mickey’ and ‘don’t think the rules apply to them’, rather than talking about earnings. She said that those who should be worried about a Labour government were:
‘People who feel it is appropriate to keep their wealth off shore. There has begun to be a view around that not just ordinary people are the ones who need to pay taxes and other people don’t. And it’s about time that stopped.’
But when it came to being pinned down on McDonnell’s commitment yesterday, Thornberry had less to say.
Would you include in that vast majority people who earn £70,000 a year?
There are many people on £70,000 who may well feel their circumstances are such that they are not rich and I understand that
Hopefully Jeremy Corbyn’s first campaign speech this morning can provide some much needed clarity on Labour’s policies – not least to the party’s frontbench.