Pa Broon was always good at the “dividing lines” tactic. So it should have surprised nobody when his protégé “Auguste” Balls “promised to restore the 50p top rate of income tax on people earning more than £150,000 a year in order to help balance the nation's books and create a ‘fairer’ tax system”. There it was: a clear difference between Labour and Tory approaches.
Nobody's getting more f***ing tax out of me, c***
And to no surprise at all, leading the opposition among those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet was the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, whose remuneration package, by complete coincidence you understand, would place him well within the 50p band, and therefore mean not quite such big paycheques for Himself Personally Now.
But here a problem enters: for the 99% of taxpayers who would not be subjected to this troublesome inconvenience, Balls’ announcement has gone down rather well. No matter: as with press regulation – also far too popular for the Mail’s liking – there is nothing that a plain, old-fashioned Mail assault can’t cure. So the creative retelling has begun in earnest.
“Labour civil war after Balls lurches to Left with soak-the-rich 50 per cent tax bombshell”. What war? “Allies of Tony Blair accused Ed Miliband of taking the party back to the 1970s when it vowed to ‘tax the rich until the pips squeak’”. Oh right, so mostly invention, then. We didn’t have entrepreneurs in the 1970s, you know. Apart from people like Richard Branson.
The Mail was so desperate that it had to call on Dan Hodges, formerly the Colonel Nicholson of the Labour Party, to whine “Yesterday, flat-lining Balls had a bad economic policy... now he's got no economic policy at all”. But Hodges knows full well that this measure has sufficient public support to put Mil The Younger in 10 Downing Street, which he has made a living out of saying isn’t going to happen.
And anyone thinking the desperation was just a passing phase were disabused of that notion when up popped Allister Heath to warn “Never mind Hollande's sex life... it's Ed Miliband's romance with Gallic finances we should truly fear”. Heath is introduced to readers as the editor of freesheet City AM, but as any fule kno is a stooge for the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance.
The Mail’s frothers and ranters have been joined by the usual suspects from the Astroturf lobby groups that masquerade as “think tanks”. The mixture of horror and indignity has been a sight to see. The sob stories of having to make do with less servants, not run as many cars, or not being able to indulge in quite as much conspicuous consumption, will no doubt continue.
All because a few editors and pundits may take home a little less. Aw diddums!