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Sat, 24 October 2020

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Keir Starmer backs John McDonnell's plan to tax higher earners in bid to woo Labour members

Keir Starmer backs John McDonnell's plan to tax higher earners in bid to woo Labour members
3 min read

Sir Keir Starmer will throw his weight behind a key Labour plan to tax the highest-paid as he seeks to clinch the party leadership.

The Shadow Brexit Secretary, currently the bookies' favourite to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, will tell a hustings in Cardiff that he plans to stick to the party's proposal to hike income tax on the top 5% of earners.

And he will say that Labour "cannot step back from our core principles or commitment to build a fairer economy and society" as he seeks to reassure members that he will not junk Mr Corbyn's leftward shift.

The Sunday Times reports that Sir Keir will also pledge to keep the party's commitment - made under Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell - to undo Conservative cuts to corporation tax and tackle avoidance.

He will argue that it is "right to ask those with the broadest shoulders... to pay more".

However, The Observer reports that the leadership frontrunner will stop short of fully embracing Labour's 2019 manifesto plans for income tax, and will not commit himself to using the bands from the party's latest election pitch, which included a new top rate for those earning more than £125,000.

The pledge came as fellow leadership contender Emily Thornberry called for landlords who leave homes empty to be stripped of their properties in a bid to tackle Britain's housing crisis.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary told a leadership hustings in Bristol that the UK risked "leaving a whole generation behind" because of a lack of affordable housing.

And she said: "We need to build more homes… and we need to do it by way of carrot and stick, so we need to have government money going in to building more affordable housing, social housing and council housing.

"But we also need a stick and we haven’t got a big enough stick at the moment."

Targeting foreign investors, Ms Thornberry added: "As for all these empty flats, for these people in China who think, 'Let's either buy a gold bar or buy a flat in Bristol' – no!”

"You're not allowed to buy a flat in Bristol as an investment and keep it empty. If you keep it empty, you lose it."

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy meanwhile called for an end to references to the British Empire in the UK's honours system in a bid to move on from the country's colonial past.

"It was Benjamin Zephaniah who baulked at the prospect of accepting an OBE – Order of the British Empire," the leadership challenger said.

"Why not a choice to provide the Order of British Excellence? Why does the honours system – which should recognise the contribution of our people – shut people out, rather than bring people in?"

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