Leading article: A progressive challenge

Share
Related Topics

The Liberal Democrats' leader, Nick Clegg, argues that his party's tax policies are fairer and more radical than those proposed by his opponents. The package of measures unveiled yesterday suggests the claim has some justification. His proposals are overtly redistributive.

They seek to tax the wealthy more in order to benefit those on low incomes. In contrast to Gordon Brown's stealthier manoeuvring towards similar ends, Mr Clegg and his Treasury spokesman, Vince Cable, are open about their objectives. They have retained their commitment to a so called "mansion tax", but properties will have to be worth at least £2m to incur a one per cent charge. At the party's conference the proposal was for a lower charge to start on houses worth £1m. The Liberal Democrats also propose cuts in pension tax relief for high earners and increases in capital gains tax.

Mr Clegg's plans are in distinct contrast with those of the Conservatives, who have unwisely made a cut in inheritance tax their main priority. They also challenge the current government to be bolder. In particular the increases in capital gains tax would provide an overdue rebalancing of tax between income and capital gains distorted by Labour's anxiety to foster investment.

But while the Liberal Democrats' proposals broadly meet Mr Clegg's claims in terms of fairness and radical sweep they are still not fully credible. During his party conference Mr Clegg called for "savage cuts". In the days that followed there were few examples of savagery. Now he unveils tax increases that will be redistributed to low earners. The redistribution deserves support, but leaves unanswered questions about how the Liberal Democrats would move towards a more balanced budget. Messrs Clegg and Cable must also tread more carefully when announcing their policies in such sensitive areas. Both Labour and the Conservatives would be derided for changing a policy that was announced only a few weeks earlier, as Mr Clegg has done with the "mansion tax".

Nonetheless the Liberal Democrats helped to shape the debate in the 1990s by arguing for higher public spending. In proposing more progressive taxes they play a similarly pivotal role.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: HGV Fitter - Technician

£16 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity for someone ...

Recruitment Genius: Automotive Service Advisor - Franchised Main Dealer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, family owned m...

Ashdown Group: Account Payable Assistant - SW London

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Account Payable Assistant - SW Londo...

Recruitment Genius: Bathroom Showroom Customer Service / Sales Assistant

£14560 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Even though their premises have...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Mininster: I would legislate for abortion on demand and abolish VAT on sanitary products

Caroline Criado-Perez
 

Election catch-up: Just what the election needs – another superficially popular but foolish policy

John Rentoul
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence