Tooting at Labour's class-war mansion tax

The mansion tax punishes Londoners who may not necessarily be truly well off. Labour is pushing one as a populist class-war policy designed only to benefit Labour’s hopeless struggle to win back its core voter base up North

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Sadiq Khan MP in Tooting
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Przemek Skwirczynski
On 6 November 2014 09:54

I was surprised to see Sadiq Khan MP, the leading London mayoral hopeful, endorse Ed Balls’ tax on London (a.k.a. Mansion Tax) on Twitter. Even Diane Abbott who loves a bit of class war and Tessa Jowell who famously gave her backing to the disgraced Harriet Harman decided to deride this shambles of a Labour policy.

As much respect as I have for Sadiq Khan, his support for a Mansion Tax is not exactly in his constituents’ favour. A simple Zoopla search will reveal that the Tooting constituency has at least 60 £2+ million properties currently for sale.

These are often terraces or semi-detached houses spread across many different roads, rather than a cluster in one particular area. For that reason it is safe to assume that a majority of houses in those roads would be valued at a similar level, suggesting that there could be hundreds of houses, if not more, which could be subject to this tax on London.

And let us be honest, Tooting is not the sort of area where people will happily part with the additional £250 per month figure suggested by Ed Balls in his 20th October article in the Evening Standard. Furthermore, this only adds insult to injury, as the locals who are often old, frail and see their children priced out of the area, are suddenly surrounded by newcomers bent on “gentrification”, and on top of that are told to pay another £250 per month just to continue living in the area they have lived in their whole life.

Of course, in the event they cannot afford the payment Ed Balls offers them to pay the debts from their estate upon their death. What a farewell that is! And to top that off, the children of the deceased, already priced out of their parents’ area, will then get further ripped off upon their parents’ death. Is that really what Labour has to offer their often core London voters?

The Mansion Tax on London is supposedly earmarked to fund the NHS. It is estimated by another Labour MP Tessa Jowell that 80 percent of this tax raised in London will end up outside of London. In the light of the recent drive for more local powers, something which surely should be championed by London mayoral candidates, how can Sadiq Khan defend a tax essentially designed to rip off the London tax payer?

Sadiq Khan suggested on Twitter this tax’s “fairness”, “simplicity” and potential to "save NHS”. I fail to understand how such a tax is fair in any way. It does not charge anyone on their take-home profits but rather on the locked-in value of their property, which does not benefit them at all and is caused by a bubble in the market.

Should the house prices drop, the Mansion Tax payments would also drop, so even if the house owner never realised the profits by selling up, they would have paid the tax off the back of the purely virtual “value” of their property. In an area like Tooting this is not a tax on the rich foreign oligarchs -- the idea peddled by Ed Balls and Ed Miliband -- but rather a tax on the average man in the street.

The wealthier people who are moving into the area and affording higher property prices get charged for the privilege of being well off by way of stamp duty already.

In terms of simplicity -- no one knows how it will be applied above the £3 million threshold or how the properties are supposed to be valued, or indeed what costs will be involved in rolling it out.

The notion that this tax can pay for the NHS has also already been widely disputed. As argued by Simon Jenkins of the Evening Standard on 21st October, Ed Balls’ numbers don’t add up and there is no way the mansion tax can raise anywhere near the £1.7 billion needed to prop up the NHS.

As such, none of the three suggestions make sense.

This tax is in essence a populist class-war policy designed only to benefit Labour’s hopeless struggle to win back its core voter base up North. It is not welcome in any part of London but especially not in places such as Tooting.

UKIP is opposed to class war; we want to see all of us cooperate to build an even greater Britain, rather than us being played off against each other. As such we are opposed to both the mansion tax and inheritance tax.

The budget can be repaired more easily, and without ripping anyone off -- the net cost of our EU membership exceeds £10 billion annually; now there's an easy win!

Przemek Skwirczynski is UKIP Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Tooting

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