Ed West writes:
I received an email from a banker friend yesterday which read simply: "This f'in tax thing is a disgrace". Now this man is a perfect gentleman, polite, decent, well-mannered and modest, quite the opposite of the stereotype of the braying, greedy yob. But he's wrong – 50 per cent for earners over £150,000 is not a disgrace.
Rich Tory-voting bankers aren't the only victims. I bet all the cocaine socialists in the media, arts and business who supported the "New Labour project" must be gutted now. Fifty per cent top rate tax – that wasn't part of the deal, Tony, that wasn't part of the deal. You told us all we'd have to do is support the 68er agenda - sexual liberation, feminism, multiculturalism, all that stuff - and we could sit back and watch profits soar on the back of cheap foreign labour.
Under New Labour Britain has become Valhalla for the rich, and Hades for the middle class. Low and middle earners are saddled with income tax, NI, council tax, stamp duty and many, many other terms that make so many of us want to act out the Michael Douglas film Falling Down. Meanwhile the squillionaires have been treated with the sort of deference one would expect in a country ruled by a short moustachioed colonel called "El Presidente".
So, while this puts me in the minority at the Telegraph, I'm as unmoved by the 50 per cent tax rise as I am by the Susan Boyle phenomenon.
We've heard all the arguments about driving wealth-creators abroad – and you know what? I don't believe it. The idea that money trickles down or that the rich invest their excess cash in new wealth creation is nice but it doesn't ring true – they invest the bulk of it in property which pushes up prices and the end result is that most of us cannot afford to live in our own country anymore.
When my mother first came to London as a secretary she lived in Hampstead, Chelsea and Kensington. I can't even afford to eat breakfast in Kensington. In fact, like millions of others. I'm dependent on hand-outs from my parents just so I can afford a pokey flat in some part of London that's not even on the tube. I admit that not many of you will be reaching for the hanky right now while reading about the woes of a young media professional in London, but what about policemen, nurses, teachers or any of the other people who have been left behind by the housing market? In large parts of London there are no really middle class people at all – everyone is either super-rich or super-poor, and it's fair to say it does not make for a very happy mix.
My only objection is that the money will be wasted on more doomed attempts at getting the hopeless, man-made underclass into work, and other failed and unworkable pieces of social engineering. Rather I'd prefer, as Vince Cable suggests, that we use the money to take the poor out of tax altogether. What a shame Vince never joined Labour.
He did, before he joined the SDP. But that is a detail.