Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘mansion tax’

Nick Clegg’s Boost for Richmond Park

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 15th October, 2013

Nick CleggRobin MeltzerRobin Meltzer’s campaign to win the Richmond Park constituency in south-west London back from the Conservatives in May 2015 recevied a boost last night when Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg spoke at a fundraising dinner at the Russell family’s old home of Pembroke Lodge. Apart from singing the prospective parliamentary candidate’s praises, Nick particularly emphasized the pro-European message of the Liberal Democrats. Though the Party believes the EU would benefit from reform, it would, in Nick’s words, be a disaster for the UK to leave. This means that the Liberal Democrats really will pin their European colours to the mast in next May’s European elections — for the first time ever, if truth be told, despite the fact that the electorate knows where the Party stands on the issue. Because of the nature of Richmond Park constiuency and, let’s be frank, the affluence of most of the people attending last night’s dinner, there were some sharp questions about the proposed “mansion tax” on properties worth over £2 million pounds. But Nick held his ground on this and insisted that it was only right that the most wealthy help pay for the government policies that have been lifting millions of the poorest people out of tax all together. The junior Education Minister, David Laws, was the back-up speaker, not surprisingly highlighting the pupil premium and other Coalition government policies aimed at th less wll-off — and all Liberal Democrat initiatives. Robin Meltzer should get a pointer as to how the mood amongst voters in the constiuency is developing next May, when the borough elections take place alongside the Euro-poll. But the many thousands of pounds raised at the dinner will give him and the local party a shot in the arm and will lead to a campaign office being set up in Richmond once again. 

Link: www.robinmeltzer.com

Advertisements

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gareth Epps on Fairer Tax

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 22nd October, 2012

The Liberal Democrats are currently carrying out a consultation on tax and admirably it really is a consultation, in that views are being sought not only at the national level (for example at last month’s Federal Conference in Brighton) but also at the grassroots. This evening, Gareth Epps — a former leader of the LibDems on Reading Council and parliamentary candidate in Reading East at the last general election, as well as a leading light in the Social Liberal Forum — came to sound out opinion among Hammersmith and Fulham LibDems in London, though the subject drew in attendees from other boroughs. The key principle at the heart of the Party’s review is fairness, but as the discussion tonight made abundantly clear, fairness is a subjective rather than an objective factor when it comes to tax. Not surprisingly, given the preponderance of members from West-Central London, Vince Cable’s proposed ‘mansion tax’, which would see people who inhabit houses worth over £2 million paying an annual tax on the figure over that amount — was unpopular. The concept of land tax won more favour, with others preferring a rebanding exercise of council tax which would take into account the fact that an absurdly high percentage of London homes all figure in the current top band; higher bands are obviously needed if we keep that system. I pointed out that London really does need special measures when it comes to tax-raising, not just because of the relatively high value of property but also because of the disturbingly high and accelerating cost of renting in the capital, which puts the Government’s cap on housing benefit into perspective; poorer families are already being chased out. There was also quite a lot of discussion this evening about the wisdom of continuing with national insurance as a separate item from tax — far too complex to go into here. But the Fairer Tax working group of the LibDems is still collecting evidence!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Previewing the LibDems’ Spring Conference

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 5th March, 2012

Islington Liberal Democrats have a tradition of letting members chew over what upcoming federal conferences are going to discuss and this evening those of us who attended a Pizza and Politics in Barnsbury had the opportunity to talk through the agenda with the Chair of Federal Conference Committee, Andrew Wiseman, who now lives in the borough. There is no motion at conference about the controversial NHS Reforms (though that doesn’t mean someone won’t dream up a credible emergency motion, and the subject is bound to be hotly debated on the fringe). But the very first item on Andrew’s list of conference topics sparked maybe more emotions than he had imagined: the government’s proposed ‘mansion tax’ of an annual levy of 1% on properties worth over £2million pounds. This was an idea originally launched by Vince Cable (though at the £1million level), but many people in London were quick to point out that this would be a form of taxation that would essentially clobber the residents of central London and parts of the South East, many of whom may well not enjoy the sort of income necessary to pay the mansion tax. I have certainly never been persuaded by the idea, especially if, as some Tories argue, it would be introduced at the same time as reducing the 50p top rate of tax. Anyway, that was not the only issue discussed in Islington this evening. Our host Jeremy Hargreaves has originated a motion on Islinton’s behalf (and with the backing of the Liberal Democrat European Group — LDEG — and some MEPs) which would essentially reaffirm the Party’s belief in the necessity for Britain to be at the heart of the EU, even if that institution required certain reforms. As I commented, I feel the Liberal Democrats now have a golden opportunity to prove our credentials as the pro-European party in Britain, with the Tories seemingly ever more hostile and Labour being ambiguous in a most opportunistic fashion — as Labour is about so much these days, of course.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Matthew’s Epistle on the Economy

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 17th February, 2012

Since Matthew Oakeshott stood down as the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman in the House of Lords — almost exactly a year ago — he has enjoyed the luxury of saying exactly what he thinks about the way the Coalition government is approaching the ongoing financial and economic crisis, not least regarding the shortcomings of the Project Merlin approach to banks which have not been lending enough to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which would be a key element in any sustainable recovery. He has thus attracted a great deal of media attention. In fact, it has been rather useful for the LibDems to have Matthew as an ‘insider-outsider’, with a proven track record in investment management in the City (particularly relating to property), as he is able to speak out about issues in a way that no LibDem Minister could. Matthew comes from the Social Democrat branch of the Liberal Democrat family and still holds his one-time boss and mentor, the late Roy Jenkins, in high regard. He is an enthusiastic supporter of Vince Cable’s proposed ‘mansion tax’ (a tax on homes worth more than £2 million pounds) as a step in the direction of moving taxation away solely from earned income towards wealth. Indeed, a substantial chunk of his speech at tonight’s dinner of the Gladstone Club, at the National Liberal Club, was about taxation, as well as broader financial and economic issues. He said he was a supporter of the Coalition Agreement, but he does not think it has been totally adhered to. And he was very pleased about the work of the Vickers Commission on Banking, but obviously feels more needs to be implemented. Matthew is an ardent European, but interestingly told the Gladstone Club dinner that he thought that Greece ought to be allowed to leave the eurozone and then devalue.

http://gladstoneclub.org

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »