“A declaration of instinct”

John Rentoul

aj A declaration of instinctImportant finding in the small print of YouGov’s poll for The Sunday Times today highlighted by Anthony Wells:

On the 50p tax rate for those earning over £150,000, the subject of disagreement between Miliband and Alan Johnson, 37% agreed with Miliband’s view that it should be permanent as it is a question of fairness and values; 46% thought it should be a temporary measure to tackle the deficit and eventually be reduced to 40p. This is an unusual finding – after all, we are used to most polling showing high levels of support for higher taxes on the rich.

Tony Blair tells in his memoir of Gordon Brown and his adjutants repeatedly pressing for a 50p rate of income tax, backed up with opinion polls that Blair dismissed as “nonsense”:

For me, top-rate tax was not about top-rate tax … I knew if we put up the top rate of tax it would be seen as a signal, a declaration of instinct, an indicator whose impact would far outweigh its intrinsic weight. When Gordon suggested it prior to the [1997] election and I was given the usual opinion-poll guff showing 70-80 per cent in favour of it, I put in a complete nolle prosequi ['An entry made on the record, by which the prosecutor or plaintiff declares that he will proceed no further'].

Tagged in: , , ,
  • Brian Hughes

    It’s curious how public opinion changes, or can be changed, over time. In ancient times when I was young I think there was general agreement that the more people got paid (I nearly foolishly typed “earned” there) the more tax they should pay. Top rate was around 19/- in the pound then. But in those days there weren’t so many super-rich people and there wasn’t so much bling around for them to spend their cash on.

    It’s odd that so many people who’ll never even make the 8/- (40p) in the pound rate have fallen for the spin from “high earners” that it’s vital for the world’s future that they don’t pay much tax. Perhaps it’s because so many top journos get paid so much.

    But I blame the Beatles, they started the rot with their “taxman” song…

  • kilgoretroutsfeet

    Agreed – look at groups like ‘Americans for Prosperity’ etc. for the resurgence of these taxation principles. And funnily enough, I was considering the Beatles’ response to taxation this morning in the shower…

Property search
Browse by area

Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter