The Lib Dems need eye-catching policies to attract attention and this time round their neon lit policy is a 0.5% levy on houses valued at over £1million
. The party forecast levying £1.1bn from the top 1% of rich property owners to raise the income tax threshold to £10,000. The tax will be collected by councils using land registers to identify which properties are liable.
It doesn’t follow that families can afford a £2,500 bill just because they happen to own a property worth in excess of £1million. But, providing the levy remains a temporary measure, the proposal is a fair way to fund an income tax threshold rise, the current level of which is unfair.
Clegg insists that the policy is about fairness, not politics; but it’s a very obvious carrot for the left, a trade-off for Clegg’s “savage cuts”. This initiative adds to the sense that the Lib Dem leadership is divided between the party’s left/right voting base, and that the leadership is caught in a philosophical smokescreen of its own making as it seeks to court both wings of its support, and acknowledge political realities. Both the Clegg-Cable cuts spat and Charles Kennedy’s warning
that reneging on the abolition of tuition fees will undermine the party’s support base suggest that internal debate and dissension are going public. That’s not necessarily a problem: the contrast between the intellectually vibrant Lib Dems and the moribund Labour party couldn’t be clearer, and, crucially, it keeps the Lib Dems on the front pages.
: I should make it clear that "intellectually vibrant" is meant to be slightly mischievous. It's undeniable that the Lib Dems' policy out-put is striking, certainly compared to Labour's; but it's clear that the party are trying to make as much noise as possible whilst they're in the limelight and I'm not sure how much of this will make it into their manifesto.