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16 November 2009updated 06 Nov 2019 12:29am

Reductio ad Stalinum

Boris Johnson compares the 50p tax rate with Stalin's campaign against the kulaks.

By George Eaton

Boris Johnson writes in today’s Daily Telegraph: “[T]he 50p tax is not far, in its political motive, from Stalin’s assault on the kulaks.”

It’s common for right wingers to trot out the cliché that Labour wants to “tax the rich until the pips squeak” (words never actually used by Denis Healey), but I hadn’t anticipated a comparison with the man who pledged to “liquidate the kulaks as a class”. 

Johnson isn’t the first Telegraph columnist to make such an inappropriate comparison. Last week, Janet Daley absurdly compared the EU with the Warsaw Pact. As in the case of reductio ad Hitlerum, there should be an informal moratorium on what one could call reductio ad Stalinum

Johnson’s remarks will delight Tory activists, many of whom loathe the new tax, but they once more put him at odds with David Cameron and George Osborne, who have insisted that everyone must pay their “fair share”. Osborne has even defended the 50p rate on the grounds that it will help foster a “more equal society”.

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This isn’t the first time that Johnson has used his Telegraph column to criticise the tax. There is perhaps no other issue on which he writes and speaks with such fervour. Should he continue in his role as unofficial spokesman for the grassroots campaign against the tax, this could become troublesome for Cameron.


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