Between a Fink and a Very Tacky Place: “Out of touch” doesn’t even begin to explain the headspace of the Tories and their backers

Last week Cameron and his Tory Crew retreated to a dark and dirty corner, hunkering down with criminal bankers, tax dodgers and the most vulgar nouveau riche to give the finger to working people.

The revelations that HSBC has been aiding and abetting money laundering nations (more benignly known as “tax havens”, you know, those blessed overseas sanctuaries that protect one’s hard earned cash from dangerous national coffers) seemed like pure déjà vu, to say the least.

The fact that Tory backers were among the wealthy clients who HSBC’s Swiss banking arm advised on how to circumvent domestic tax authorities and conceal millions of dollars of assets should not have come as a surprise either.

At weekly PMQs Cameron (as we have come to expect) did his usual thing of refusing to answer questions. In this instance, Ed wanted to know how come Dave had given a peerage to Richard Green, the HSBC boss at the height of the bank’s malfeasance, and made him a government trade minister. Four times Cameron was asked if he had ever had any conversations with Lord Green about tax avoidance at HSBC; four times he changed the subject, hiding behind trite gags about the wheels coming off Labour’s pink bus.

The fall out

The claim from the Treasury and HMRC that France had placed limitations on British prosecutors use of the incriminating HSBC files when handed over to the government in 2010 was very soon shot down. The French denied (in a somewhat prickly way, it must be said) placing any restrictions on the material; the British government had simply not responded, they intimated. Remarkably, Chancellor Osborne has made no statement of any kind.

HSBC chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, took out a full page in some newspapers to offer his apology. He admitted that the bank had “sometimes failed to live up to the standards” expected of it, and shared his pain and frustration at media reports on the allegations. (Oh dear, if only we could somehow find it in our hearts to empathise).

Meanwhile, Lord Green fell on his sword, resigning from his position with an influential (and a bit murky, perhaps?) financial services lobby group. (He will surely not be missed outside of the 1%).

No such “noble” action from a Lord called Fink! A multimillionaire former hedge fund manager and Tory donor who was once also the Tory treasurer, Lord Fink initially threatened to sue Ed for condemning his “tax avoidance activities”. But after sleeping on it he admitted to employing “vanilla” tax avoidance measures, including transferring shares into family trusts while he worked in Switzerland. From his comments, Lord Fink apparently thinks avoiding tax is normal! (We’re all in it together, right?)

Go soft on the rich, punish the poor and the vulnerable

In the midst of the HSBC meltdown we learned just how far our systems are being corrupted in support of the mega rich.

  • There are 300 HMRC employees investigating tax evasion of over £70bn compared to “3,250 Department of Work and Pensions bods chasing down £1.2bn of benefit fraud”.
  • But who goes to prison? In one case highlighted by The Guardian, a cleaner who claimed £25,000 while working for two contract cleaners got 7 months, while a property dealer who hid a 6-figure sum in Switzerland had to pay a small penalty.

As the week drew to a close, Cameron took the path of distraction and divisiveness, announcing plans to go after obese people, alcoholics and drug addicts on benefits.

Swelling the campaign coffers with a glitzy knees-up and ministers for sale

Last week we were also reminded of who the Nasty Party works for, and it was not edifying. The very rich and vulgar turned out in force for the Black and White Ball, and the hilariously ghastly auction that made it the most successful fundraising event in the party’s history according to The Telegraph (if we ignore all these payments from big business tax avoiders!)

Even the Daily Mail was not impressed by the “secret guest list of bankers, hedge-fund managers and dodgy tycoons (not to mention pornographers)”, while The Independent wondered whether, since many of the prizes went for amounts way beyond their face value, they shouldn’t be subject to the same rules as political donations.

Meanwhile, over at The Guardian, Andrew Rawnsley pointed out that the Tories had “trousered more than £12m from just eight City potentates over the course of this parliament and that the number of big financial donors to the Conservative party has doubled since David Cameron acquired the keys to Number 10”.

Although he defended the ball, the former Tory chancellor, Ken Clarke, for one, thought the party’s dependence on millionaires was getting a bit out of hand and there should be a cap on donations.

And a new poll indicates that last week’s revelations have left a nasty taste. YouGov’s daily tracker, highlighting the issues that are getting public attention, indicates voters have a problem with Tory-Fink Land. Findings on the related issues over the last three days were as follows:

  • The public judge Tories more harshly over funding row
  • The HSBC and tax avoidance story recorded the highest level of public attention in recent months
  • Voters think Swiss bank accounts are held for “underhand” reasons3e9710c8-08c3-43fe-b6d8-a6cd237a53fa-1020x562Cartoon: Chris Riddell, 15 February 2015

It’s Rocky Time! The business sector’s orchestrated attack on Labour fails to land a knockout punch

Pushed back against the ropes, Ed Miliband and Labour came up with some strong counter-punches to make it through another gruelling round of dirty fighting from Tory election strategists and their media backers.

The mainstream media went into full throttle beat-down mode when Boots billionaire, Stefano Pessina, warned of “catastrophic consequences” if the British electorate votes for Ed and Labour in the upcoming general election. (For the record, we had not previously heard of Mr Pessina, much less asked for his opinion.)

A relentless tsunami of ferocious body-blow headlines (above really, really bad photos of Ed) poured forth as some of Britain’s “most respected” (by whom, we know not) business leaders and a New Labourite or two lined up to put the boot in, leading to headlines such as: “Fifteen of Tony Blair’s business backers go cool on Ed Miliband” (The Telegraph) and “Ed Miliband will bankrupt Britain, bosses warn” (Daily Mail).

Labour fight back

Labour hit back with a one-two: First, by acquainting us with Mr Pessina (who it turns out is a tax-dodging exile living in Monaco); and second, by using the opportunity to promote some of its policies to clean up the tax practices of big business and secure a fairer deal for working people. One is that a Labour government would give UK overseas territories six months to compile a public register of offshore companies or be put on a “tax havens” list, potentially repatriating billions of pounds.

Businessmen and Lords claimed that Ed’s “personal attacks” were “shutting down political debate”! Labour was “anti-business”, guilty of stirring up the “politics of envy” and (according to Cameron, cheering from the side lines) displayed a “sneering hatred for business” that would cost the country 100,000 jobs (a random figure clearly pulled out of the air).

The media, firmly in Pessina’s corner, were aghast at Labour’s stand; Ed had been warned about fighting with business, now he would have to face the consequences.

Punch drunk?

But as the new week gets underway, it is fair to say “attack of the businessmen” has not had the results that Tory strategists would have hoped for.

We knew things weren’t going right in the business corner when Pessina’s spokesperson said he had been “quoted out of context”. A few days later, John Mills, Labour’s largest individual donor (and a businessman) wrote of his own experience with the press, exposing the mechanics of bringing media lies into the mainstream. In this case The Mail on Sunday started the lie, The Independent repeated the lie and Cameron used the lie to attack Ed at PMQs.

By this past weekend things had started to shift; the (relatively) more liberal media began shining a light on Tory malfeasance and asking uncomfortable questions. As the BBC online review of The Papers put it, “From Labour in difficulties to a potential Tory embarrassment” reporting on The Sunday Times story about an investigation into tax avoidance by the Tory Solicitor-General, Robert Buckland.

The Guardian broke the news of accounting scams at HSBC and The Sunday Mirror, meanwhile, condemned the “fat cat lives” of those on the boards of big accountancy firms, and reported that Cameron had “no regrets” about appointing the HSBC chief to a top government post offering advice on minimising tax to wealthy clients.

Corporate Britain also turned out to be less worried about Ed than about the Tories dragging the country out of Europe, which reportedly “sends shivers down the spine of big business” and has motivated the millionaire founder of Ecotricity to donate a six-figure sum to Labour.

As for the treacherous New Labourites, they appear to have been brought to heel for the time being with Blair pledging to do everything he can to get Ed and Labour into power (yes, we know, a double-edged sword at best).

Still standing

After taking the latest below-the-belt bashing, Labour is again slightly ahead in polls released at the weekend.

The Guardian asked (somewhat plaintively, we thought): ‘Pilloried by the press, beset by inner turmoil: how is Labour still in the lead? The Times came from the other angle: if Labour is as bad as it appears, why are the Conservatives not well ahead?

Maybe they should ask instead how come Ed is still standing, given the coordinated Tory/Crosby/media attacks in which everything plus three kitchen sinks has been thrown at him for the past four years, non-stop.

Ed’s leadership has been marked by his ability to choose the right fight, hold his corner and roll with the punches. The Labour Party, the unions and the left in general must stand firm with him to win GE2015 and rid the country of the Tory scum and their LibDem enablers.

Post election is when we hold his feet to the fire to ensure he delivers a government that works for the majority.

High on Hubris and Bloated on Bribery and Corruption: The Tory 1% is leading us back to a grim future of casual prejudice and divisiveness

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the West’s most respected economic think-tank, has rejected the whole concept of “trickle-down” economics being pursued by David Cameron and George Osbourne and cites evidence showing that “income inequality has a sizeable and statistically negative impact on growth”.

Based on its latest research, the organisation states that the UK economy would have been more than 20% bigger if the gap between rich and poor had not widened so much since the 1980s (across OECD countries, the richest 10% now earn 9.5 times the income of the poorest 10%, up from 7 times as much in the previous period).

Far from cutting taxes for the top 10%, the OECD proposes a rejigging of tax systems to ensure wealthy individuals pay their fair share. The proposals include increasing top rates of income tax, scrapping tax breaks and reassessing the role of all forms of taxes on property and wealth. The think-tank also recommends putting in place redistributive policies to achieve greater equality in disposable income and thus improve life for the bottom 40%.

This is reminiscent of Ed Miliband’s recent speech at the University of London where he described the current state of the country as “deeply unequal, deeply unfair, deeply unjust”, and pledged to change the “zero-zero economy” where some people are on zero hours contracts and those at the top are paying zero tax.

The OECD report was well covered across all media, from The Guardian (Revealed: How the wealth gap holds back economic growth) to the BBC (Inequality “significantly” curbs economic growth: OECD) to Sky News (Wealth gap harms countries’ growth – OECD). Not even The Daily Telegraph (Inequality worst in decades) or The Daily Mail (Reducing inequality would boost economic growth) could spin the story in favour of Cameron and Osbourne’s awful economic policies.

Meanwhile many (including We Ladies) were wondering what the hell took the OECD so long! But be that as it may, beyond the economic-speak of “trickle down”, “growth”, and “redistributive policies”, we were also struck by some other recent stories that speak volumes about the corrosive effects of income inequality on the health of the society.

Bribery and corruption

The OECD had also made headlines the week before with its report that bribes in company deals average $14m, with 57% of them paid to win public procurement contracts, mainly in wealthy countries.

Here, two recent deals come to mind. The Royal Mail rip-off is estimated to have lost the government £1 billion and made a profit of £36 million for the hedge fund of George Osbourne’s university pal and best man. And why would the government privatise the profitable, publicly owned East coast mainline in a time of austerity?

Then there’s the case of Stephen Dorrell, the Tory MP who won’t give up his parliamentary seat until after the May 2015 General Election, despite taking up a job with KPMG, a private company that wants to bid on a £1 billion NHS contract. Dorrell himself admits his new job is “incompatible” with his role as an MP. So who’s his boss for the next five months, his constituents or KPMG?

Upstairs, downstairs?

Moreover, on the day the OECD inequality story led the news, Tory peer Baroness Jenkins proclaimed that poor people go hungry because “they don’t know how to cook” (to which one Twitter wag responded that poor people certainly know how to cook as they’ve been working below stairs for generations to feed the upper classes). What’s more, the peer showcased this gem of ingrained class prejudice while launching the damning report of an all-party parliamentary inquiry into hunger and footumblr_mcvxgkZqh11qk8yisd poverty in Britain.

Feeding Britain” identifies a “growing budgetary crisis for many low-income families”, with a considerable number finding it difficult to afford the “three main essentials of food, housing and utilities”, due to low pay, growing inequality, the harsh benefits sanctions regime and social breakdown.

In a typically Tory mealy-mouthed way, the Baroness later faux-apologised “to anybody who’s been offended”. She should have “learned the lessons” after criticism of the House of Lords refreshment committee, on which she sits, for its refusal to share catering facilities with the Commons because they were worried the quality of the bubbly might suffer.

Also showing his intense interest in the fate of the poor was Tory MP Nigel Mills, who was photographed playing the online game Candy Crush during a meeting of the Works and Pensions Committee.

Sexism and racism too

On the same day the Baroness put her foot in her mouth about what poor people can’t do, Janet Suzman, the actor and Dame, declared from hubristic heights that theatre was invented by white people. We don’t know from whence came this flight of ignorance; we can only hope that she takes on board the ensuing criticism.

However, Suzman’s ignorant comment pales when set against Nigel Farage who, late for a meeting in Wales, blamed immigrants for there being too many cars on the road. The Daily Mail was surprisingly unsympathetic, noting that, “UKIP pays £60,000-a-year for Mr. Farage to enjoy the services of a chauffeur”.

It’s been a bad week for Farage altogether (as we’re always glad to point out). Apart from crass immigrant paranoia, he also reminded us of his lack of empathy towards women, telling a radio interviewer that women should breastfeed “in a way that’s not openly ostentatious”, perhaps sitting “in a corner”. A follow up, it would seem, to his recent remarks that women who work in the City and have children are worth less than men.

Cameron and Osbourne Stick to their Guns: More austerity for us, more prosperity for them

So, post Autumn Statement, we are now clear on the extent of the square-jawed resoluteness of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They read from the same script: “our Long Term Economic Plan is working” and the UK must “stay on the course to prosperity“. The question is, whose prosperity?

Missed targets

Contrary to the script, what the Autumn Statement demonstrated is that the long-term plan isn’t working (at least not for the purpose stated). As Ed Miliband had already noted, speaking in Nottinghamshire on Monday, they have missed “every single target they set themselves on clearing the deficit and balancing the books by the end of this Parliament”. This includes:

  • A shortfall of more than £66bn in income tax receipts
  • National Insurance contributions £25.5bn lower than expected
  • Social security expenditure £25bn higher than planned
  • Borrowing going up and the deficit has worsened

Ed Balls has pointed out that the deficit will not come down “unless growth is strong and wages are rising for working people”. But growth is actually slowing and pay is falling, with people on low incomes seeing their wages fall the most.

The government will have to borrow as much as £75bn more than it intended over the next five years to make up for collapsing revenues from income tax, oil sales and stamp duty. Tax receipts are forecast to be £23bn lower in 2014-15 than predicted. Maybe that’s because poor people can’t pay tax and corporations won’t pay (or are gifted tax cuts).

Smoke and mirrors

The Autumn Statement is full of dodgy accounting. The Independent lists several of these tricks. For instance, Cameron had already announced the headlining £15bn road-building programme at the CBI conference last month (and, as reported in the Daily Mail, no less, the Campaign for Better Transport says it “will trash protected areas and do nothing for the economy”).

The £2.3bn for flood defences had already been allocated as part of a “national infrastructure plan” that will span the next six years, and £750m of the £2bn for the NHS is being reallocated from the existing health budget with the rest coming from under-spending by other Whitehall departments.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies says Cameron is using an inconsistent definition of “savings” when he says the government has made £100bn worth. And as for the deficit, having failed to erase it as promised, Osbourne’s plan now is to halve it by the election.

Then there’s the announcement that the government will pay back all the World War I debt – what Osbourne calls “a moment for Britain to be proud of” and “a sign of our fiscal credibility”. Only problem is, it’s not true; he’s actually refinancing it.

The cover up

All of this obscures Cameron and Osbourne’s real agenda of shrinking the government, buttressing the financial sector and adding even more to the coffers of the already mega rich. And they are succeeding in advancing these goals.

They have fooled many into believing the myth that Labour “got us into this mess” and the even bigger lie that it is they who are clearing up the mess by “making the difficult choices” in a painful austerity programme that takes from the poor and gives to the rich. It is all a big scam.

In “Pain, No Gain: The Austerity Scam”, John Weeks recalls how Osborne predicated the programme of cuts on “a deficit, expenditure over revenue, of 10% of gross national product, allegedly unprecedented during peacetime”. But as Weeks points out “the deficit … was higher under the John Major government in 1994 (minus 9.1% of GDP compared to 8% in 2010)”.

The fact is that the deficit was not caused by Labour’s spending or by “welfare scroungers”. The global financial melt down was a direct result of corruption and fraud in the global banking sector. Yet the government led by Cameron and Osbourne has taken no action to get that sector under control.

But who is paying the cost?

The evidence is clear. “Britain is on the brink of becoming a nation permanently divided between rich and poor,” according to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, which predicts a rise in absolute poverty from 2.6 million households in 2010 to 3.5 million in 2020.

The numbers on child poverty, homelessness and reliance on food banks are increasing in tandem with the numbers of billionaires taking up residence in London (up from 39 in 2012 to 43 in 2013 and on Forbes list of the top 10 cities for billionaires).

Osbourne wants MPs to vote next week on his “Charter for Budget Responsibility”, which would set a target in law to eliminate the deficit and balance the books by 2017–18. It’s easy to see what the trickster is up to. The next government will be locked into his austerity programme; win or (more likely) lose, he wins. And we will lose too, with the state projected to fall to its lowest size since the 1930s, according to projections by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

On a final note

The Twitter hashtag, #CameronMustGo continues to soar – still trending unabated and projected to reach a million tweets today. One positive thing that can be said about Osbourne’s Autumn Statement; it provides plenty more fodder to keep the hashtag trending for some time to come.

Amy

Grace

MrsVB

The Twitter Antidote to Right Wing Press Attacks: A flood of tweets sends #CameronMustGo viral and rattles the agenda of the powers that be

B2_BFpHCUAEQbtq

Over the past month hundreds of thousands of social media users have taken to Twitter to boost Ed and Labour (#WeBackEd) and denounce the rule of Cameron and his cronies (#CameronMustGo).

#WeBackEd trended well at the start of November as tens of thousands tweeted their support for the beleaguered Labour leader. It has since developed into an excellent way to promote Labour’s policies (especially useful since the majority of the media skirt over these in favour of bacon sandwiches and the like).

Now #CameronMustGo is being used as a vehicle for Twitter users to vent their anger about the debilitating and cruel policies of Cameron and his government.

The first tweets went out on Saturday 21 and by Monday 24 had reached 250,000. By the end of the week, that figure was up to 645,000 on UK trends.

This has clearly upset the plans of the right wing media, which are used to driving the political agenda of the day, dictating what we read, view and talk about.

Not much coverage

One indication was the relative lack of press coverage accorded to the story in the first few days. (Just imagine the feeding frenzy if such negativity was being aimed at Ed and Labour.)

@BBCtrending, self-described as the “BBC team reporting on stories trending around the world”, managed to ignore #CameronMustGo until Wednesday 26, when it had been trending for five straight days.

That same morning, The Daily Telegraph decided to try and take back control. It asked the question: “How worried should David Cameron be about Twitter bullies?” And it co-opted one Radhika Sanghani to “shine a light on the campaign’s sinister side” (our emphasis).

Sanghani, although conceding how rare it was for a topic to trend on Twitter for five days running, was somewhat peeved that almost  3,000 tweets an hour were featuring #CameronMustGo. “It is stubbornly sticking around and just won’t go away,” she griped.

Sanghani really, really wanted to know whether the hashtag was an “honest representation” of the UK electorate’s voting intentions or “the work of angry left-wing activists who want to take down the PM”.

So she conducted a “30-minute search” in which she could find just one post “from a typical British voter” (a mother and a writer, we were told). Somehow, she was also able to glean that most of the hundreds and thousands of tweets were “from people who know each other” (although she did not explain the feasibility of this).

Furthermore, the tweets were “pretty standard left-wing complaints” – oh, you know, tedious stuff like “the impact of cuts on the poorest and the NHS; the growing reliance on food banks, and cost of living increases”.

She was concerned. “They’re obviously entitled to do this, but the problem is that all other voices are drowned out.”

Now there’s an irony!

Twitter not part of the plan

Cameron and his enablers in the media must be rattled by the competition coming from Twitter. Despite throwing everything (including the kitchen sink and bath) into their campaign of demonising Ed and Labour, they have not been able to push up the Conservatives’ own polling figures or deliver a knockout blow to the opposition. (And, of course Nigel Farage is still sticking in Cameron’s craw.)

They’ve long since upped the ante; the spin is being spun out of control. Dominate the discourse, manipulate the information, introduce distractions and destroy hope to suppress the liberal vote. And, to some extent this has been working. There are many who believe that all politicians are the same and who won’t vote for “any of the above”, if at all.

Having a positive effect

What Twitter does is give a megaphone to the very forces, activities and views that the right wing media ignores or belittles. It provides platforms such as #WeBackEd and #CameronMustGo as an antidote to the mainstream media’s fudged statistics, biased opinions, lies and witch-hunts against the poor and the vulnerable.

Running alongside the mainstream headlines of Ed’s supposed problems, his policies – now all over social media – are beginning to get through. In the last few days, YouGov, polling for The Times, asked which national party best represents working people. 46% of respondents said Labour, 24% said UKIP and 18% said the Conservatives.

B3D5SJDIUAAnY2t

Poverty on the Rise: CameronMustGo because he and his cohorts rob the poor to overflow the coffers of the rich

Recent research confirms an alarming rise in poverty and inequality fuelled by the policies of the Tory-led coalition government. 13 million people in the UK, half of them in working families, are now living in poverty due to falling wages, rising prices and lack of full time work, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s latest annual report on poverty and social exclusion.

This report and several others demonstrate that these days having a job doesn’t guarantee that you can keep the wolf from the door:

  • Average incomes have fallen by 9% and there’s been a “sharp increase” in the number of under-25s “living below the breadline”.
  • In the last year, three out of five people who moved from unemployment to a job were paid less than the minimum wage (although not a single company has been prosecuted).
  • 1.4 million adults are working part time because they can’t find full-time work.
  • 1.6 million people are on temporary (mostly zero hour) contracts.
  • The average self-employed person now earns 13 per cent less than five years ago.
  • Growing numbers of people on low incomes depend on food banks to survive (22% of the record half a million who used them in the first 6 months of the current financial year, according to research by the Trussell Trust).

It’s a no-win situation for people in need of the social security safety net: those wishing to appeal the loss of benefits are soon confronted with the fact that “legal support … has been almost completely withdrawn”.

Failing our children

Rates of child poverty are shocking – over 30% in almost all the major cities in the UK (reaching as high as 39% in Manchester and 37% in Birmingham) and in a large number of London’s boroughs (Tower Hamlets, at 49%, tops the list).

63% of children living in poverty are in a family where someone works. At the same time, changes to the social security system have reduced the value and coverage of child benefits and tax credits for families with children and thus “worsened the experience of poverty for many”.

New research shows a third of families of children with disabilities are worse off due to the cuts – often being forced to choose between food or heating – and a quarter say this has affected their child’s health.

Who benefits?

These are just some of the hardships being perpetuated by the government under its irrational and obsessive programme of cuts. We are called on to offer due sacrifice – “all in it together” to pay off the criminal debts of a few.

But by now it should be clear that Cameron and Osbourne’s austerity programme has been hitting those with the lowest incomes hardest. Not only that, but a recent study finds that Osborne has been engaged in a significant transfer of income from the least well-off half of the population to the more affluent.

Although the top 5% lost 1% of their potential income (which, truth be told, they won’t even have noticed), the rest of the top half of earners gained while the poorest groups ended up “losing most as a proportion of their incomes”.

Meanwhile, Osborne plans to make another £12bn of welfare cuts in the next parliament. And Cameron, seeing it as his “moral” duty, is adamant about lowering taxes for the rich (perhaps to “balance” things off for having increased VAT, a tax that impacts most on poor people).

“Cameron must go”

Whether due to wilfulness or incompetence, Cameron’s government is failing the working people in more than a hundred different ways – from poverty to welfare to childcare to the NHS to low pay to education (see the full list here). Not only that: it hasn’t even paid down the deficit, which along with the debt just keeps on rising.

It’s no wonder that the twitter hashtag #CameronMustGo went viral this past weekend when over 100,000 angry tweets recorded the growing opposition to austerity and berated Cameron for breaking promises and telling lies. The resistance was bound to come (you can’t fool all the people all the time). But on Election Day, will it be strong enough to see the back of Cameron? Ed and Labour have the policies, but can they withstand 6 more months of the relentless and coordinated beat down, driven by the Nasty Party and right-wing media? More thoughts tomorrow…

Bedroom Tax or Mansion Tax? Should we defend robbing “little grannies” with a spare room or charging the super rich who have many, many rooms to spare

The mansion tax is one of Labour’s policies for supporting the NHS and ensuring the very wealthy pay their share of tax. It stands in stark contrast to the current government’s bedroom tax, which church leaders have attacked as “deeply unfair” and Labour has said they will abolish.

In a stinging rebuke on the impact of the bedroom tax, today senior Church of England clergy said, “As well as being ineffective, we perceive both the principle behind the policy and the consequences of its implementation to be unjust.”

In contrast, the latest non-story aimed at disparaging Ed, which the media so love doing, focused on singer Myleene Klass’ attack on the mansion tax on ITV’s The Agenda.

According to Klass, the mansion tax would hit “little grannies” who’d lived in their modest homes in London for years and years, rather than the super-rich. In London, she declared, £2m would only buy somewhere “like a garage”.

Bent as they were on insinuating Klass thrashed the floor with Ed (she was said to have “gone Paxman” on him), the media did not ask the pertinent questions: Just how many “little grannies” on pensions and benefits are rattling about in £2 million mansions? Did Klass ever “do a Paxman” on Ian Duncan Smith? Is it a fact that in London garages are so expensive? (Alas, we still do not know)

Ed, however, argued that “those with the broadest shoulders should pay the biggest burden. I think that is a decent, right principle and that is not happening under this government.”

The mansion tax policy has sensible, built-in safeguards: the threshold will rise if house prices rise (and even initially may be higher than £2m based on prices when it’s introduced) and also people in high-value homes who don’t have high incomes – like those “grannies” – can defer the tax till the property changes hands.

Meanwhile, the bedroom tax (a policy that appears to have been scribbled on the back of a cigarette pack) has forced lots of grannies as well as many disabled people to pay up or go into rent arrears and risk eviction.

myleene-3--z