Fraser Nelson

Boris is right - Britain does need rich people. And plenty of them

Boris is right - Britain does need rich people. And plenty of them
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Boris Johnson is about the only politician in Britain to stand up for the rich, pointing out that while they may be annoying, they tend to create jobs and prosperity and having plenty of that is no bad thing. The Mayor was interviewed for the latest Freakonomics podcast, boasting that:

"London is attracting huge amounts of international investment... London is to billionaires what the jungles of Sumatra are to the orangutan. It is their natural habitat."  

Here it is the podcast - Boris is at the start:-

"I'm sure you like your poor people too," replied the presenter - which is an odd question. Does welcoming wealth imply being sniffy about the poor? As Boris knows, billionaires are super taxpayers, waking cash cows for the government and massive benefactors of public services as well as charities.

As I revealed in my Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, 'How the Rich Get Richer' (which you can still watch here for a few days, if you get past the political health warning) the top 3,000 taxpayers in Britain stump up more income tax than the lowest-paid 9 million. In fact, the best-paid 1pc pay more income tax than the lower-paid 50pc. These statistics should warm the heart of the most ardent redistributionist.

The more highly-paid people come to Britain to live and work, the higher the tax haul and the less the lower-paid workers have to pay. Simples.

You won't hear this figure mentioned much because it interferes with the lazy narrative pushed out by those whose supposed interest poverty is eclipsed by their obsession with the rich. It was interesting to hear Labour folk suggesting that Myleene Klass emigrates if she doesn't like Ed Miliband's mansion tax - that hang-the-rich attitude will make everyone poorer.

— Paula Sherriff (@paulasherriff) November 18, 2014

Francois Hollande's 75pc income tax helped win him an election, but proved an economic a disaster that had the wealthy saying "toddle pip" to France. The tax now been repealed, yet Milband wants a 52p tax to try to repeat the experiment in Britain.

Wealth does not create poverty. Family breakdown, educational failure and addiction are the main factors in creating poverty, and obsession with the rich distracts much-needed attention from these points.

It's sad that the Conservatives are so paranoid about their own wealthy backgrounds that they will not make this point. It means that bashing the rich has supplanted the more important issue about talking about poverty, its causes and remedies. It's good to see that Boris Johnson is ill-inclined to fall into that trap.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

Topics in this articlePoliticsboris johnsoninequality