Harriet Harman has bitten, writing to David Cameron accusing him of lying about her tax rise comments on LBC:
Dear Prime Minister,
You claimed at Prime Minister’s Questions today that “yesterday Labour announced – in an important announcement – that it is now their policy to put up taxes on middle income people”. This is not true. It is a lie.
In fact, as you surely know, since your own party circulated a transcript later, I had made a straightforward defence of our system of progressive taxation – the idea that people on higher incomes should – and do – pay more in tax overall than people on lower incomes. The full quote is here:
“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.”
Harriet Harman, LBC, 14 July 2014
It is utterly clear that this is not a call for higher taxes, but a defence of a system which has previously commanded wide support, in which people on middle incomes contribute more than people on lower incomes.
While the principle of progressive taxation has been undermined in recent years, by your Government’s decision to raise VAT and to cut the top rate of tax for the highest earners, even you had not seriously questioned it until today.
Our politics, and the quality of public debate, requires that all participants, however much they may disagree, take part in good faith.
Harriet Harman MP
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Does anyone seriously believe Labour won’t raise taxes?
For some reason Harman left this part of the transcript out of her letter, presumably because it included another uncosted spending pledge:
“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.”
How are they going to pay for that, another bankers’ bonus tax?