Labour is still pursuing its mansion tax vote, with the debate set for next Tuesday. It’s a clever piece of political timing by Ed Miliband’s party, as the text of the motion is now out and about in time for the Lib Dems to assemble in Brighton for their Spring Conference. Vince Cable is speaking tonight at a fringe event, and will undoubtedly be asked whether he wants the Lib Dems to support it. The motion, which the party has just released, reads as follows:
‘That this House believes that a mansion tax on properties worth over £2million, to fund a tax cut for millions of people on middle and low incomes, should be part of a fair tax system and calls on the Government to bring forward proposals at the earliest opportunity.’
This is very carefully-worded indeed. It does not mention the reintroduction of the 10p rate that Labour wants to use the mansion tax for. This means it will be more difficult for the Lib Dems to vote against it.
What Labour would like to do would be to cause chaos in the Coalition on this. It’s not so much that it would upset the Lib Dems internally in the way that supporting Mark Reckless’ motion on the EU Budget upset the Tory party internally. The Lib Dems have, all the way up to the leadership, been openly campaigning on the mansion tax. The weirdest example of this is the official party petition a few months ago which came from Vince Cable and was sent to the Treasury: an example of a minister lobbying his own colleagues on a policy they’d already rejected.