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Tory voters want a mansions tax. Mail and Sun oppose Hester's bonus. Is Cameron on the wrong side of the wealth issue?

By Tim Montgomerie
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The Coalition's policy of raising the income tax threshold to £10,000 enjoys the overwhelming support of voters. 83% tell YouGov (PDF) that they support the policy and just 8% oppose.

It was Nick Clegg who forced the policy on to George Osborne during the initial Coalition negotiations and its popularity explains Thursday's speech in which the Deputy PM called for the policy to be introduced more quickly than initially planned.

Mr Clegg wants the policy to be financed by higher taxes on the wealthy. One way of increasing taxes on the wealthy is a mansions tax. YouGov finds that even Tory voters (by 57% to 31%) support a mansion tax on properties with a value of £2 million or more. The policy is backed by 66% voters overall with just 19% opposing. A mansions tax would be an expensive new tax to administer. If George Osborne does favour higher taxes on unearned wealth (and it's unclear whether he does) he will probably opt to close existing loopholes or perhaps introduce higher council tax bands for more expensive properties.

In proof that we are entering a difficult period for what Paul Goodman has called the 'Thatcher tax settlement', twelve times as many voters agree that taxes should be increased on the wealthy as think they should be cut (62% to 5%). There is still strong opposition to scrapping the 50p tax rate. 27% think it should go but 60% want it to stay.

It's in this environment that the Hester bonus payment has become so toxic. Alarm bells will be ringing in Downing Street this morning at the fact that the normally sympathetic Matthew d'Ancona has declared that the RBS bonus issue is an "electoral milestone" and Cameron is on the wrong side of the issue. Ed Miliband is in full battlecry and his tweet last night strikes a very populist chord:

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In introducing a bank levy, raising capital gains tax and cracking down on tax dodgers the Chancellor and PM will say that they have already acted to create a more just tax system. Do they need to do more or do they need to realise that the demand for bashing the rich represents a left-wing politics of envy and that it can never be satisfied?


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