Lib Dem conference: Clegg promises to push for wealth tax


Mr Clegg says he is determined to "make people at the top make a fair contribution... to balancing the books"

Nick Clegg has insisted the coalition will not make future spending cuts "on the backs of the poor" and urged the Conservatives to back a "wealth tax".

The Lib Dem leader said those with most assets should "pay their fair share".

He also told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show he would "not flinch" amid growing speculation about his future.

Mr Clegg also unveiled plans to allow people receiving large sums of money on retirement to use them to help underwrite their children's mortgages.

Work and pensions minister Steve Webb has been asked to look at developing such a policy.

The Liberal Democrats are holding their annual conference in Brighton, with the leadership keen to promote a sense of discipline amid poor opinion poll ratings.

'Want to pay'

The theme of the event is "fairer tax in tough times". Mr Clegg is promising to ensure that the next government spending review will not include further spending cuts without a measure of wealth tax.

He said: "I think many people of considerable wealth in this country want to pay."

He added: "The vast majority of people in this country won't find it acceptable if further fiscal austerity was implemented on the backs of the poor...

"I'm not saying something as big as welfare is immune from further savings but I'm saying that the burden has to be spread fairly."

The Lib Dems already have a policy of imposing a 1% charge - a "mansion tax" - on expensive properties above a threshold of £2m and are investigating further proposals.

But the Conservatives oppose introducing a wealth tax, saying it would be unfair to impose it after a home or other large asset had been purchased.

'Do more'

Mr Clegg said that "so far I have failed" to persuade Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne to accept his party's arguments, adding: "But the mansion tax is not the only way in which you can make people at the top make a fair contribution to this huge national effort of balancing the books.

"We have already illustrated through capital gains tax, through stamp duty, through tax avoidance and many other measures ... the top 10% pay more and we can do more of that.

"There are numerous ways that we have already done it and numerous ways that you can do more of it."

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander promised an extra 100 HM Revenue and Customs staff devoted to fighting tax avoidance by people with assets worth more than £1m. Previously the threshold was £2.5m.

Earlier this week Mr Clegg apologised for breaking his pre-election promise not to support an increase in tuition fees.

But he said he would not be deterred from the coalition's main stated aim of cutting the budget deficit, telling the Andrew Marr Show: "When you are half-way up a mountain you should not bail out.... I am not going to flinch."

For Labour, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves said: "Nobody will be fooled by Nick Clegg's empty words on tax...

"Nick Clegg is the Deputy Prime Minister of this government and he must take responsibility for its actions. After so many broken promises, people will judge the Liberal Democrats on what they do, not what they say."

The latest poll by Opinium, published in the Observer newspaper, puts Labour on 42% and the Conservatives on 30%.

It places the Lib Dems on 8%, behind the UK Independence Party, on 10%.

The poll represents the views of 1,681 people who indicated they were likely to vote from 1,984 online interviews.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1589.

    what amazes me about Mr clegg is he believes that his apologies and reaffirming of his left of center credentials will be believed by anybody even his own party find it difficult to swallow at least Andrew Mitchel said what he really thought.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1588.

    1576. Rodders

    All have the right to what they think is fair, not all are right. Everybody has the right to accept or reject employment. Nobody has the right to expect the rest of us to support them if they refuse it. You get out of this world what you put in to it, the more you put in the more you get out. Those with true ability will rise to the top.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1587.


    No, you don't get it.

    Companies cannot afford to employ youths currently as they don't have enough custom. They don't have enough custom because the population in general are paid little and spend everything on surviving and getting to work.

    Those with more money invest elsewhere, not in UK.

    We can have it your way if we increase the benefits bill substantially!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1586.


    Yes they can, it just means a slight dent in their profit margins. Its not being work shy it's being realistic. Why would a youth want to work when benifits pay more? Think about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1585.

    "Why is it that the wealthy are perseved to use more Police time than others? "

    Well go for a walk down the streets in london where the mega rich live, it would not be long before you saw a police presence, you could walk all day up and down my street that has a big drug problem and see none all day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1584.

    1578. Golgotha

    Lol Sorry, I was shocked at what i was reading as i went back through the conversation and failed to see it wasn't actually your post.

    My apologies

  • rate this

    Comment number 1583.

    Golgotha and Rodders

    You don't get it, do you?
    Companies simply cannot afford to employ a youth with the current minimum wage for an 18 year old. Especially when they will have no experience. Once a youth reaches 21, then the minimum wage should increase. As for work-shy youth, if they are offered work, and refuse, then their benefits should be cut gradually, until they do accept the job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1582.

    Warren Buffet understood that wealth comes with responsibility - call it noblesse oblige. Surely this is a feature of any civilised society.

    Read ´The Spirit Level´ which clearly explains why unequal societies are generally dysfunctional failures and more equal societies thrive (at all levels).

  • rate this

    Comment number 1581.

    1574. Billythefirst

    Totally off subject, do try to stay focused.

    What is your point relative to what I said?

    Why is it that the wealthy are perseved to use more Police time than others? Or more Council Services?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1580.

    Don't believe that you are wealthy just because you drive a company BMW and live in a nice £200k house. A rise in interest rates is coming, along with severe job cuts and a lot of very angry people thanks to this government.

    You'll soon lose your job, your car and then have to pay the bank double for your monthly mortgage payments.

    Then let's see if you still think you are wealthy!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1579.

    Look at the mess we are in. Look at how every politician lies, even the ones you thought were the good guys.

    You have to come to the conclusion they have all proved themselfs incapable of running a country, they should all claim incapacity benefit, they would not even have to sit a ATOS medical as there is soooo much prove they incapable of doing a job right !

  • rate this

    Comment number 1578.


    I knew talking to him would get crap on my shoes. I never said that re read the comments again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1577.

    Are you for real?
    The minimum wage as it stands is penny's compared with the real life cost of living any sort of reasonable level in this country.
    How would reducing that further help anyone?
    If employers got under 18s working 40 hours for £100 a week as you suggest they would fire them as soon as they become eligible for a higher rate! and hire younger cheaper staff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1576.

    Tio Terry

    No, everyone has the right for what they consider to be fair recompense for their labour. Whether they get it or not is another thing, and compromise is of course necessary.

    Companies should not have an automatic right to employ people on next to nothing (assuming they aren't workfare slaves), expecting the gov't to pick up the slack with benefits, which is all too common...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1575.

    Anything the wicked LibDems say should be taken with a pinch - nay, a bucketful - of the proverbial salt. Before the general election they repeatedly pledged to tackle the obesity crisis, but just days after they entered government yet another new kebab shop opened in Wandsworth High Street. A local news blog tells the story:

  • rate this

    Comment number 1574.

    Those who are muggers are usually drug addicts, also not the wealthy.
    Terry, what do you call a mugger in a pin stripe suit?

    I'll give you a few clues :
    Their drug is bonus.
    Their tools include endowments, mortgage protection plans, collateralised debt obligations and currency default swaps(depending on sector of target victim).

    Rhymes with anchor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1573.

    1536. Zed

    The wealthy do not create jobs, if anything they reduce the jobs market. The drip down effect of wealth on the economy and jobs was exposed as a wholesale lie under Thatcher and Major. It is still an absolute lie now under Cameron.

    But I suppose if you live in London and work in banking or in financial services then you probably still believe this tosh.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1572.

    Nick should just register the Lib Dem Party as a charity collecting in aid of the UK National Debt. He'd probably have more luck with that than his current proposal, maybe even get some lottery funding (which ironically is a tax on delusion). It might even start him back on the road to redemption.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1571.

    Nick Clegg is right, The wealthy benefited greatly from the past decades of speculation and were largely responsible for the collapse. Their fortunes remain generally intact (often in offshore havens). What a travesty that the burden of ´correction´ is now passed to the ranks. Governments are faltering, but huge private wealth remains untapped ... time to pay what´s due!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1570.

    Cutting the tax rate for the wealthiest people in the UK (from 50p to 45p) cost the government about £4bn a year. The government said at the time this was "affordable".

    Why then did this government say last week that ensuring nurses & teachers pay kept up with inflation would "cost the country around £3bn which is unaffordable in the current climate."

    It seems they have their own priorities.


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