Labour splits over 50p tax

ALAN Johnson, the shadow chancellor, yesterday said the 50p rate should be a temporary feature of the tax system – putting him at odds with his party leader.

During his leadership campaign, recently installed Labour leader Ed Miliband said the 50p top rate would be made permanent if he became Prime Minister.

Miliband also threw his weight behind a graduate tax, and has made much of the Liberal Democrat party’s decision to drop its opposition to university tuition fees.

But yesterday Johnson – one of the last remaining big hitters from the centrist Blairite wing of the party – said there was a very “big difference” between himself and Miliband on these key issues.

Johnson said the 50p rate should stay in force only as long as the country was suffering from the after-shocks of the financial crisis. Asked if he was contradicting Miliband, he said: “You have to separate out what’s going on in a leadership contest, where people say all kinds of things... and where we stand now.”

Deputy chairman of the Conservatives Michael Fallon said: “It’s an extraordinary admission that senior Labour leaders still can’t agree on central issues. There’s still no Plan A.”