For three months, the Spectator has been lodging Freedom of Information requests to view the working for the estimate that the 50% rate would increase yield by £1.13bn. So far no joy from either the Treasury or HMRC – a fact that increases the sense that the rise will yield less, and that it is merely a cunning piece of sensational politics designed to trap Cameron. As it turns out, this is the only piece of successful strategy the Brown premiership has pulled-off.
There’s no doubt that the policy is popular, spawning crazed recitations of the Denis Healy songbook: “Screw the bankers!”, “Tax them until the pips the squeak!” etc, etc. Now, you may contend whether Emin’s latest show, which features a very self-regarding film of her masturbating, is ‘Good Art’, but art it is. Her intervention is a reminder that pernicious tax rates endanger more than the nation’s wealth; they threaten its cultural vitality. The 50% rate is nothing more than the cosmetic face the politics of envy. It is short-sighted, cynical and counter-productive. Cameron should ditch his pledge to match it.