There are two types of people who should be most worried about George Osborne’s Autumn Statement: the rich and the Labour Party. The Chancellor’s big move reforming stamp duty means those buying properties over £1.5 million will in future be writing much larger cheques to the taxman. The Tories are claiming the reforms will mean savings for 98 percent of buyers. This translates to a direct assault on the richest 2 percent.
So the rich won’t be happy, and neither will the Labour Party. Labour’s mantra, which Ed Miliband wants to repeat every day until the election, is that the recovery is “not for the many, but for the few”. Today’s announcement has already been dubbed by the Sun as a “left-wing”, “Robin Hood” Autumn Statement. Osborne’s stamp duty bashing of the rich arguably outflanks Labour from the left in terms of policy. Ever the political strategist, Osborne’s hope will be that this undermines them in terms of rhetoric too.
The worry for the Chancellor is that traditional, wealthy Tory supporters will take badly the news that they are in his sights. The obvious place for these voters to go would be UKIP. Yet Nigel Farage’s party has tentatively backed the stamp duty reforms, and given their recent direction is unlikely to come out in defence of the rich.
This wasn’t a conservative Autumn Statement, it wasn’t economically sound. Indeed, in many ways it was quite left-wing. That is why the reason right-wingers won’t like it is exactly the same as why Labour won’t like it either.