Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: “If you want fairer taxes, there’s only one party for you: the Lib Dems.”

No prizes for guessing which subject dominates this week’s letter from Nick Clegg to party supporters: the forthcoming Eastleigh by-election. Nick reflects on his own experiences campaigning in by-elections of yore – “exhilarating, exhausting and exciting in equal measure” – and urges all party activists to help in whatever way we can in the next three weeks. A major feature of the campaign in Eastleigh and across the country will be the Lib Dems’ push for Fairer Taxes, and it’s great to see Nick’s message including web-links to enable readers to take action for themselves on this key message. Here’s his letter in full…

libdem letter from nick clegg

Do you remember the Eastleigh by-election of 1994? I expect some of you were there nearly twenty years ago, to see our own David Chidgey returned to Parliament as the area’s first ever Liberal Democrat MP. But some of you may have started supporting the party more recently than that. You may never have been to Hampshire or even been to a by-election.

So let me give you the unvarnished truth from my experiences: the Winchester by-election in 1997 where Mark Oaten turned a majority of 2 into a majority of thousands. The Brent by-election in 2004 where Sarah Teather defied all the odds to win one of Labour’s safest seats. And the Bromley by-election in 2006 where we came within a whisker of unseating the Conservatives in one of their heartlands.

By-elections are exhilarating, exhausting and exciting in equal measure. When you turn that hard work into victory, nothing beats the feeling. But if you don’t win, you can spend weeks wondering if you could have worked just a little bit harder. The only way to protect yourself from that regret is to work as hard as you possibly can to reach the voters and get out our message.

Tomorrow [ie, Saturday] is a national Action Day for campaigning on tax justice: lower taxes on working people. Higher taxes on mansions.

So I want you to join me and thousands of other Liberal Democrats in getting out on doorsteps, delivering leaflets or simply getting on the phone to voters in your area. It doesn’t matter if you’re a by-election veteran or if you’ve never campaigned before. Whether you last delivered a leaflet yesterday or twenty years ago: now is the time to get active.

Why? Because two big things are coming up.

The first: the by-election in Eastleigh on the 28th of this month – less than three weeks away. I was shocked and saddened when I heard Chris Huhne was pleading guilty and stepping down.

Our priority now is to get behind Eastleigh’s brilliant campaign team, led by council leader Keith House, and get another Liberal Democrat returned to Parliament.

The second: in April ordinary workers will see the biggest ever rise in the personal allowance, making them £600 a year better off. We’re within touching distance of our target of ensuring everyone can earn £10,000 before they start to pay any tax.

Tomorrow is your chance to get the message out to the voters about the changes we’ve made and to get the campaign going for the last step up to £10,000.

And our message right now is all about tax.

The message we need to get out – on every doorstep this weekend and to every voter in Eastleigh over the next 20 days – is simple. If you want fairer taxes where people at the top pay their fair share and ordinary working families pay less, there’s only one party for you: the Liberal Democrats.

Think of it this way: Liberal Democrats put payslips before palaces. Find out what your local party are up to tomorrow and how you can help.

And if you want to help in Eastleigh today, tomorrow, or any day in the next three weeks there’ll be a warm welcome at campaign HQ. But you don’t have to travel to help. You can make some phone calls from home. Or you can donate money to the campaign.

Whatever you do make your message about tax fairness: Taxes on mansions. Tax cuts for millions.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg

Do you know someone who would like to get Nick’s weekly email? Forward this message and they can sign up here:
http://www.libdememails.co.uk/nick

For those Lib Dem members wanting to receive Nick and the party’s emails, Mark Pack has produced a handy guide to help ensure you’re signed up: Why did I not get that email from the Liberal Democrats?

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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20 Comments

  • Stuart Mitchell 10th Feb '13 - 2:09pm

    “The second: in April ordinary workers will see the biggest ever rise in the personal allowance, making them £600 a year better off.”

    This implies that people will be £600 better off in 2013/14 compared with 2012/13. Of course, they won’t.

    People who fall within certain pay bands (i.e. excluding the very low paid and the relatively high paid) will at best be paying £593 less income tax than they did four years ago. They will will not however be £593 “better off” than they were then (never mind £600), because of all the other tax and benefit changes.

    “We’re within touching distance of our target of ensuring everyone can earn £10,000 before they start to pay any tax.”

    This implies that people earning £10,000 will become exempt from VAT, council tax, petrol duty, and all the other taxes they currently pay.

    Would the Lib Dems please stop being dishonest with people about tax?

  • Stuart Mitchell 10th Feb '13 - 6:42pm

    Simon: “Is that what you thought it meant, Stuart?”

    I long since gave up trying to work out what Nick Clegg “means” – I’m just telling you what he actually said.

  • Richard Harris 11th Feb '13 - 12:54am

    ” If you want fairer taxes where people at the top pay their fair share and ordinary working families pay less, there’s only one party for you”
    …and this from the Deputy Prime minister of a Government that lowered tax for the ultra-rich? If there is a single politician that represents broken promises I’m afraid it’s Clegg. I’m sorry – I love the message, but can’t trust the messenger.

  • Liberal Neil 11th Feb '13 - 10:47am

    @Richard Harris – the ‘ultra-rich’ are paying a greater proportion of their income in tax now this year and next year than they did in any year of the last Labour Government.

  • “@Richard Harris – the ‘ultra-rich’ are paying a greater proportion of their income in tax now this year and next year than they did in any year of the last Labour Government.”

    Yes, the group that has suffered the greatest percentage drop in income as a result of this government’s tax and benefit changes is the 10% with the highest incomes.

    The problem is that the group which has suffered the second greatest percentage drop is the 10% with the lowest incomes. Then the 10% with the next lowest incomes. Then the 10% with the next lowest incomes, and so on. The people who have been hit least hard are those in deciles 6-9 – that is the remaining 40% on above-average incomes.

    Is that fair?

  • jenny barnes 11th Feb '13 - 11:55am

    I can only assume that means they’ve turned most of their “income for income tax purposes” into “income not for income tax purposes” probably by registering themselves as wholly owned subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands. If the ultra rich collect all the little green rocks, then on-one can do anything because they are sitting on them all, and you need little green rocks to give to each other to make the economy work.

  • Indeed. Labour’s Capital Gains Tax rate was just 18%.

    We raised that to 28%.
    Labour’s top rate of income tax was just 40%, the 50% rate applied for just 39 days.

    We are nailing the Swiss bank account holders, with taxes of 48% on interest, 40% on dividends and 27% on Capital Gains.

    Labour collected no tax at all from them.

  • Mark Inskip 11th Feb '13 - 1:10pm

    @jenny barnes “I can only assume that means they’ve turned most of their “income for income tax purposes” into “income not for income tax purposes”

    One of the biggest benefits for the rich under Labour was when they change the Capital Gains Tax rules and reduced the rate to just 18%. the rich making gains from the sale of property and investments saw this as a great way of reaching their tax bill.

    One of the first steps taking by the coalition as a result of Lib Dem influence, was to raise the rate to 28% for higher rate tax payers.

  • Richard Harris 11th Feb '13 - 5:43pm

    Sorry, by ultra-rich I meant more than just the top 10%. As Chris above says, the burden is not being spread equally across the whole of society, and to argue for a fairer tax system whilst not also ensuring the benefit system also works to that end is just nonsensical (my family is considerably worse off after the Tax credit changes). But my real point is that I’m sure I’m far from alone in simply not being able to trust what Clegg says – I voted for him largely because of his absolute commitment to Higher Education, and therefore will never trust the man again. Whilst it may be the case that the HE issue appears to be fading, the subject of trust is bound to rear it’s head again in the run up to the next GE. That, surely, is what the party needs to work on.

  • Stuart Mitchell 11th Feb '13 - 6:50pm

    Simon: “The Coalition Government has raised taxation on the ultra-rich.”

    How are you defining ultra-rich?

    If we restrict ourselves, say, to the 13,000 people who earn over £1 million per year, then those lucky individuals will receive an income tax cut of many tens of thousands of pounds per annum in April. Do you have any figures that tell us whether this group’s total tax burden has gone up or down?

  • “I was basing my statement on the Chancellor’s assertion at the time of the last Budget that “thanks to the other new taxes on the rich I’ve announced today, we’ll be getting five times more money each and every year from the wealthiest in our society” than would be lost from cutting the 50% rate to 45%.”

    The trouble is that there’s a lot of uncertainty about how much has been lost by cutting the 50% rate (at one point it was even being claimed that the cut would increase tax revenue!). So that “five times more” estimate is very questionable.

  • Simon – you cannot trust Osborne’s comments on these matters – as you will know, he has never been keen on increasing tax even on the very (?ultra?) rich. I think you will have to quote independent sources. As I remember how this debate has unfolded, was that early in this Govt’s term, they disingenuously tried to roll in changes made under Labour to show that the rich had been hit hardest. I think you will find that most independent economists will tell you that those in the bottom third of income groups have taken the heaviest hits, when all Government taxation and services are taken into account.

  • Mark Inskip 11th Feb '13 - 8:57pm

    @Stuart Mitchell ” If we restrict ourselves, say, to the 13,000 people who earn over £1 million per year,”

    What about those with many millions of pounds of wealth but with lower annual incomes. Aren’t they richer?

  • Mark Inskip 11th Feb '13 - 9:12pm

    @Stuart Mitchell ” If we restrict ourselves, say, to the 13,000 people who earn over £1 million per year,”

    Under Labour anyone earning £1 million could get tax relief on up to £255,000 a year of pensions contributions so protecting more than 25% of their annual income from income tax. In the coming tax year that limit will be £40,000 the same person earning £1 million will only be able to protect 4% of their income from income tax.

    If you do the calculation that’s an extra £215,000 taxed at 45% so an additional bill of £96,750. Of course there is the 5% saving on income over £150,000 which would save £42,500, but clearly the net impact on some one taking maximum advantage of pension tax relief is that they will be paying tens of thousands of pounds more next year than they would have had to pay under Labour.

  • Mark Inskip 11th Feb '13 - 9:51pm

    @ Simon Shaw “I was merely disputing the claim that the Coalition Government has “lowered tax for the ultra-rich”. Through closing off major loopholes (e.g. by tightening up massively on tax relief on pension contributions) the ultra-rich are paying more tax, even though the top marginal rate of income tax is being cut.”

    In reality you’re seeing a mix of the two coalition parties’ policies on taxation. Increasing Capital Gains Tax and restricting tax relief on pensions contributions for high earners as well as increasing the allowance to £10,000 for low earners were clear Lib Dem policy priorities at the last General Election whereas cutting the 50% rate was clearly a Tory one.

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