Of course it’s right that Ed Miliband is finally putting paid (which the latest 3 polls make much more likely) to the wholly indefensible and anachronistic nonsense of non-domicile status whereby rich individuals can live in the UK, but claim to live abroad on the basis of some bauble like a foreign bank account, a father born abroad or even just a burial plot abroad, and thus pay no tax on their worldwide income unless they remit it to the UK. No other country in the world allows this, and it is yet another subsidy, albeit a particularly egregious one, to Mandelson’s ‘filthy rich’. But this isn’t just about settling scores with 116,000 non-doms. The significance of this move goes much further, and is perhaps one of the reasons that the polls are now moving Labour’s way.
It’s about leadership, it’s about vision and principle. Leadership first. Cameron has been lionised as a strong leader and Miliband chastised as a weak leader. The record tells the opposite. Cameron wobbled on the environment: he flew to the Arctic to get himself photographed on a dogsleigh, to detoxify the Tory brand by embracing green, but then come PM he has been more pro-fossil fuels than any British leader in recent history. Then he wobbled on the EU: he insists he wants Britain to remain in the EU, but then gratuitously offers a referendum on exit in 2017, veering to the Right to keep his rebellious Little Englanders in tow, putting party before country. Then he wobbled on the media, taking on Andy Coulson, the editor of the News of the World during the hacking scandal, in order to keep in with Murdoch, and ignored the mounting furore over industrial scale phone hacking until the Millie Dowler saga forced his hand. Strong leader?
With Miliband it’s the opposite. He has achieved in Opposition what no other leader in Opposition, neither Thatcher nor Blair, managed to do, namely changing the course of events in ways hugely important to this country without any direct executive power to do so. He stopped Murdoch getting BSkyB which would have turned our news system into a UK version of Murdoch’s Fox News. He stood up to the Tory tabloids in defence of Leveson’s prescription of redress for people abused by the press over privacy and gross inaccuracies, a big risk when the Sun, Mail, Express and Telegraph (and their Sundays) control 70% of the UK press. He caused a furore by daring to impose a 16-month freeze on ednergy charges after the Big 6 energy companies had been ripping off customers for years. He stopped a third Middle East War by opposing Cameron’s plan to support Obama in a missile attack on Syria that week. And now he’s taken on the very rich by pulling down the blinds on the non-dom scandal. Weak leader? So who has Cameron taken on? – the jobless, the disabled, the carers, while flip-flopping all over the place to keep his Right-wing rebels on board. It’s a no-brainer.