London’s Evening Standard, aka London Daily Bozza, is owned by someone whose house in the capital is currently valued at well over £2 million. It champions occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, whose London house is also valued at well over £2 million. It would come as no surprise if editor Sarah Sands also inhabited a house valued at over £2 million.
One Londoner doesn't want to open his wallet ...
All of this has, I’m sure, had no influence whatsoever on the Standard splashing the anguished headline “One in seven Londoners fears £2m mansion tax will hit them” above a photo of Corporal Clegg, who as any fule kno is a rotten Lib Dem and therefore not as wonderful as hero-cum-legend Bozza. Tory MP Greg Hands has gone further, over the top even, calling the “news” a “bombshell”.
If only Hands used the fingers on them occasionally, he would know that (a) one in seven “fearing” a mansion tax means that six out of seven do not, and (b) before going off the end of the pier, more alert readers will look further and see that the reality means only 2% of Londoners, or one in fifty, will actually be hit by a mansion tax levied on properties valued at over £2 million.
... make that two Londoners
But the Standard’s message is that “The surprise findings of the poll, by YouGov, suggest that thousands of homeowners are worried that they will be ‘sucked in’ to the mansion tax band by rising house prices ... with values currently rising at 19.3 per cent a year hundreds of London homes are being lifted into the £2 million plus bracket every month”. This is excellently crafted fact selection.
So it ignores inconvenient news, such as “Rightmove has claimed that asking prices in London have fallen this month as concerns over the affordability of homes in the capital deepen and more properties are put up for sale. The property website declared the market has come ‘off the boil’ ... the prospect of rising interest rates alongside a 23% jump in the number of homes on the market”.
There is good reason to fear a rise in interest rates: at its August meeting, two members of the Bank Of England’s Monetary Policy Committee voted to raise them. If they convince three more to join them later in the year, that will give a majority of the nine-strong body. Interest rate rises mean more expensive mortgage payments, and that will impact on house prices.
Not that you will read it in the Standard: instead, we hear from “A spokeswoman for Mayor Boris Johnson” (cynics might suggest this could be the Standard’s editor) who told that “many pensioners would find the mansion tax ‘devastating’”. No, I don’t want to look over there: this article is a crude attempt to make ordinary Londoners feel sorry for the overmonied and greedy, and as such it is not a success.
The mansion tax idea enjoys popular support. Deal with it, newspaper executives.