Did Margaret Thatcher practise the “politics of envy”?
She did – if you believe the Tory-supporting columnist Matthew d’Ancona.
Writing about Ed Miliband's support for the 50p tax rate in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph, Matthew d'Ancona observed:
The symbolism of the state taking half his earnings once he reaches a certain level – as an act of social justice rather than fiscal necessity – could not be clearer. This is not progressive taxation. It is the politics of envy reborn.
Right-wingers – in particular, Telegraph columnists – get rather worked up about top rates of tax and, in particular, Labour's 50 per cent tax on earnings above £150,000. Writing in the Telegraph in November 2009, Boris Johnson claimed:
The 50p tax is not far, in its political motive, from Stalin's assault on the kulaks.
Hmm. The top rate of income tax for nine of Margaret Thatcher's 11 years in office stood at 60p – until, that is, her chancellor Nigel Lawson cut it to 40p in 1988.
Was the Iron Lady guilty of practising the "politics of envy"? Was she a closet Stalinist?
Perhaps low-tax advocates on the right should tone down some of their rhetoric, given their own heroine's record in office.