Later today Ed Miliband will be in Eastleigh – and while he’s there he’ll confirm that Labour plans to force a vote on his proposed Mansion Tax. As one senior Labour source told me last night – that will force the Lib Dems to “show whose side they are on”. And since Vince Cable gave Miliband’s Mansion Tax announcement such a warm response, it certainly would be hard for the Business Secretary to oppose it now.
Labour want to see the Mansion Tax debated “as soon as possible” I but they haven’t ruled out forcing an amendment to the Finance Bill, which with Parliament’s current arithmetic could have very interesting results.
Here’s what Miliband is expected to say in Eastleigh:
“People here in Eastleigh know. Families across Britain know. If you have a job, you’re putting in the hours as never before.
“But you’re working longer and harder for less. You see the prices going up and up and up. Your weekly shop. What it costs to heat your home. Filling up your car.
“The squeezed middle has never been so squeezed. And if we carry on as we are it will be like that for years and years.
“No wonder the economy has flatlined for over two years, when no-one can afford to buy the things that British businesses try to sell. All this Government has to offer is tax cuts for the richest at the top, an unrelenting squeeze on the middle, and a race to the bottom.
“That is not how we will build a successful economy again. It’s time for a new approach. And that’s what the One Nation Labour Party under my leadership will offer. The by-election here in Eastleigh, like the General Election that will follow, will be a living standards election.
“Because the big questions being asked by families today is who is on their side? It isn’t the Tories and Liberal Democrats.
“Who cut taxes for millionaires while everyone else pays more.
“Who do nothing to stand up to the banks, the energy firms, the train operators and the payday lenders who rip people off.
“Who promised us high growth and a lower deficit but gave us only a high deficit and no growth.
“That’s why I said this week it’s time for a One Nation approach.
“A Labour budget next month wouldn’t be cutting taxes for millionaires. We would tackle the vested interests that hold you and business back.
“And this week I said we would restore the 10p tax rate, putting Labour where it should always have been: on the side of working people.
“I have said that should be funded by a tax on houses worth over £2 million. It’s about having fairer taxes. And laying the foundations for a successful economy – a recovery built by the many, not just a few at the top.
“The people of Eastleigh deserve an MP who understands that. Who is on their side. His name is John O’Farrell.
“Today I am announcing that we will force a vote in the House of Commons on the mansion tax in the coming weeks. We know the Conservatives oppose this measure, even though it would only affect a small number of houses worth over £2m. They wrote to their multi-millionaire donors solemnly promising they would not let anyone tax their mansions.
“And what about the Lib Dems? There could be a majority in the House of Commons when it votes on our proposal. But only if the Liberal Democrats vote with Labour. Now the Lib Dems say they are in favour of a mansion tax. Well, they once said they were in favour of abolishing tuition fees too.
“Here is a chance for Nick Clegg to prove he can keep at least one of his promises. Nick Clegg has already shown he doesn’t stand up to the Tories by voting for the millionaires’ tax cut. Behind closed door negotiations between the Liberal Democrats and the Tories didn’t change that.
“A tax cut that in just six weeks’ time will give 13,000 people earning over £1million an average tax cut of £100,000.
“It’s time for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats to be honest with the people of Eastleigh and show whose side are they on.
“They must answer this question: will they vote with Labour in advance of the Budget to force David Cameron and George Osborne to act?
“Or will the Liberal Democrats do what they’ve done for two-and-a-half years: prop up a Tory Government that is squeezing the living standards of the middle harder and harder?
“The people of Eastleigh know that John O’Farrell, if elected on 28th February, will be part of the One Nation Labour team.
“They know he’ll represent change. They know he’ll fight the Government.
“They know he’ll support a mansion tax and the return of the 10p tax rate.
“They know that the choice they face on 28th February is between two candidates from the Government and a One Nation Labour candidate in John O’ Farrell who, if elected, will support real change.”