Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Pop goes Labour’s Mansion Tax as Myleene Klass struggles on

 

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Indy Politics

Class war is back in British politics! Or rather Klass war. Though sadly not present, Myleene Klass, who self-effacingly describes herself on her website as “classical musician, TV presenter, author, fashion designer, businesswoman and mother” was very much the star of Prime Minister’s Questions.

There’s probably no need to explain that Ms Klass castigated Ed Miliband on television over the Mansion Tax and, according to David Cameron, echoing sections of the media-political complex today, “wiped the floor” with the Labour leader.

True, Miliband may not have been as combative as he should have been at the time, but then pretty well anyone would have been fairly nonplussed by Ms Klass’s suggestion that in London’s overheated housing market, a mere £2m – the property value above which Labour and the LibDems intend to levy the tax – buys you little more than a “garage”.

Knowing it was coming, Miliband boldly walked straight towards the gunfire by raising the Mansion Tax himself. Did Cameron really think, he asked, that the owners of a Hyde Park penthouse recently sold for £140m should pay the “same annual property tax as someone living in a house worth a fraction of that value?”

Since Cameron’s answer to this question – that we are “charging foreigners who come and invest in our country” basically meant “yes”, it was just as well that he could summon Ms Klass to the rescue. Miliband, the PM said, had been given a “pasting by a pop star” (a job description Ms Klass, who among much else nearly won I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, in 2006, may regard as doing less than justice to her many talents), “We are certainly not seeing a class act opposite.” (Class-Klass, get it?). “More, more,” the Tory backbenchers shouted ecstatically. 

And this was the highlight! No doubt showing their pre-election disapproval of the Coalition partners they have happily cohabited with since 2010, Lib Dem Cabinet ministers were conspicuously absent from the front bench. Nick Clegg was officially said to be “on a visit”. To Southwark actually, large parts of which, as it happens, are a few minutes’ brisk walk from Westminster. 

They didn’t miss much. But one Lib Dem who was present, the ever-bouncy Tim Farron, unwittingly triggered a classic Cameron feint by asking about “excessive second-home ownership” causing a rundown of rural schools, buses and post offices. Would he sanction a council tax increase for “wealthy second-home owners” to protect such services? Farron, the PM said, was “right to say that we need to build more houses to ensure that the village school, the village post office and the village pub are given the support that they need, and under this Government that is happening.”

But hang on, Farron hadn’t even mentioned house-building. But we were already on to the next question.

All this – including the endless trading of NHS statistics – can only get worse between now and the general election. Michael Gove has reportedly “cancelled” Thursdays – already not a day famous for high attendance – telling MPs they would be better off in their constituencies than in the Commons. So, Thursday is the new Friday! On today’s showing it would be nice if Wednesday could be the new Thursday.

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