Labour was accused of pursuing the policies of Venezuela last night as it unveiled plans for a tax raid on middle-class homeowners and powers to force landlords to sell on the cheap.
A report, called Land for the Many, said council tax should be replaced with a new ‘progressive’ levy targeting larger homes with gardens.
And it suggested scrapping the single person discount – which gives widows and others 25 per cent off their bill. The blueprint, commissioned by Labour, also put forward radical reforms such as taxing land owned by foreigners and building thousands of council houses on public land.
Labour was accused of pursuing the policies of Venezuela last night as it unveiled plans for a tax raid on middle-class homeowners and powers to force landlords to sell on the cheap. Pictured: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
And it called for Britons to be forced to attend town hall planning meetings in the same way they have to go on jury service.
Labour frontbencher Jon Trickett said he would consider the proposals, which he said would tackle the ‘concentration of land in the hands of the few’.
However, Tory MP Priti Patel accused the party of ‘state-sponsored theft’. The former Cabinet minister said: ‘This is confirmation that Labour would bring the policies of Venezuela to Britain.
‘These are the policies of a banana republic with a disregard for property rights.’
David Prescott, 49, (right, left, his father John) a close aide to Mr Corbyn, was allegedly accused by a young female Labour MP of making ‘unwanted sexual advances’ in November 2017.
Labour staff in revolt after Jeremy Corbyn blocked the suspension of John Prescott’s son over sexual harassment claim
More than 100 Labour staffers wrote to Jeremy Corbyn last night to demand he get the party’s ‘house in order’ over sexual harassment.
They demanded action over claims that the Labour leader’s office blocked the suspension of John Prescott’s son following a complaint of alleged sexual harassment.
David Prescott, 49, was allegedly accused by a young female Labour MP of making ‘unwanted sexual advances’ in November 2017.
According to reports, Mr Corbyn’s chief of staff Karie Murphy intervened to overturn a recommendation that he be suspended from Labour membership.
He has strenuously denied the allegations. No formal complaint was pursued and he returned to his role in the Labour leader’s office.
Yesterday, Labour staffers wrote an open letter to Corbyn asking him to overhaul the party’s system for handling complaints.
They wrote: ‘Working in politics isn’t easy, and many of us choose to give up our personal lives for Labour because we believe it is the best force for good in our country.
‘What makes the job even more challenging than it should be is having to work in an environment where sexual harassment and bullying are not taken seriously.’
Labour has said it takes all complaints extremely seriously.
‘In this case, no formal complaint was received to investigate,’ a party spokesman said.
MPs have urged the party to make its complaints procedure entirely independent to avoid accusations of factionalism in dealing with complaints of harassment or racism and anti-Semitism.
The MPs Jess Philips and Stella Creasy have said the party must carve off its complaints arm, rather than use the current system where the bodies making final decisions about the complaints can be elected on factional slates.
A newspaper and television journalist – who helped write his father’s now-defunct column for the Sunday Mirror – Mr Prescott is a seasoned political operator who has worked with, among others, Tony Blair’s spin doctor Alastair Campbell.
When talking up his private media training business, which he ran before taking up his role with Labour in late 2016, he took credit for the campaign that resulted in disgraced Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Fred Goodwin handing back £4.7million of his pension.
Venezuela’s economy has been driven into political and economic crisis by hard-Left policies admired by Jeremy Corbyn.
The report, written by academics and economists, was commissioned by Labour to address ‘the problems and injustices of British society’.
It said the ‘regressive and unpopular’ council tax should be replaced by a new progressive property tax based on regularly updated property values that would hit the top 40 per cent of property by value.
Rates would be set nationally rather than by local councils, meaning regular inspections by state officials.
The report accused the single person discount of encouraging the ‘over-consumption of housing’.
It also called for town halls to make more use of compulsory purchase orders on land needed for building – and said they should be allowed to buy the land at a much cheaper price than at present.
Councils would be given the power to require land that has been left vacant or derelict for a defined period to be sold at public auction.
Changes to existing laws would enable them to buy at prices closer to its current use value, rather than potential future residential value.
In order to ensure poorer families have a voice in the process, it said everyone should be eligible for jury service-style attendance at planning meetings.
Among the other policies, a ‘community right to buy’ would make it easier for residents to band together to purchase land. Firms based abroad who own land in the UK would face a new offshore company property tax.
Mr Trickett, Labour’s spokesman for the Cabinet Office, said: ‘For too long, people across the country have had little or no say over the decisions that affect their communities and the places in which they live.
‘So much of this can be traced back to the broken system of land ownership. Concentration of land in the hands of a few has led to unwanted developments, unaffordable house prices, financial crises and environmental degradation.
‘Labour is committed to tackling these head on and delivering a fundamental shift in wealth and power from the few to the many.’
Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said: ‘These proposals are extraordinary and deeply damaging in equal measure. Labour will stop at nothing to hammer families with more tax and make home ownership a pipedream for future generations.
‘Plans to seize land into public ownership also show Labour’s true colours of more and more state control. This tax bombshell for families would mean family homes with gardens paying far more and higher taxes on pensioners by abolishing the single person discount.’
ALEX BRUMMER: A frightening move straight from the autocrat playbook
Among all of Labour’s crackpot schemes to destroy free market capitalism in Britain, none is more frightening than the proposed ‘grab’ of private land that the party has just unveiled.
It is a move straight out of the Marxist playbook, a tactic regularly deployed by autocrats the world over with the aim of burnishing their revolutionary credentials – with dramatic consequences. What Labour is determined on is a new age of collectivism. Well, we know how disastrously that worked out in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere – famine and starvation.
For modern day examples, look no farther than Zimbabwe and Venezuela, where the confiscation of large swathes of property from the landowners to be gifted directly to workers led to collapsing food production, economic slump, and was a factor in the hyper-inflation and widespread poverty that followed.
The proposed ‘grab’ of private land that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party wants has chilling echoes of the policies of former Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe (right)
In a sophisticated nation such as Britain, where international investors have bought property as a safe investment haven, the impact could be even more devastating.
Even the threat of Jeremy Corbyn’s apparatchiks interfering in the free market by stopping the sale of land to the highest bidder is enough to scare off buyers and cause values to collapse.
Of course, Labour would argue that is the aim – ‘land for the many, not the few’. In reality it shows the party’s utter economic ignorance.
For example, under current arrangements, local authorities or infrastructure companies such as HS2, which is building the high speed rail link between London and Birmingham and on to Manchester, are required to compensate land and home owners affected by the development at market values.
Corbyn and his team, headed by shadow chancellor John McDonnell (pictured) would buy land at its current (and always lower) ‘land use value’ rather than at a market price which recognises the uplift that development can bring
Corbyn and his team, headed by shadow chancellor John McDonnell, want to change that. They would buy land at its current (and always lower) ‘land use value’ rather than at a market price which recognises the uplift that development can bring.
This could trigger a financial crisis. Much of the nation’s potential land for development is owned by housebuilders, property companies and institutions such as insurers and pension funds.
Some of these development holdings will have been bought or financed on credit from the banks. If land values plummet, banks will be left with a black hole on their books.
A lending freeze might follow, bringing commerce to a shuddering halt, since credit is what keeps corporate Britain moving. That could lead to cascading business closures and a return of large scale unemployment. Even worse, those financial institutions most exposed to property could collapse, destroying the savings of millions. Almost as alarming is Labour’s proposal for an offshore property company tax, a huge deterrent to overseas investors from Asia, the Middle East and closer to home in Norway and Germany.
No one could blame them for pausing their investment in Britain.
What Labour seems oblivious to is that property development is a fundamental building block of our services- led economy.
Of course, it is not the first time that Labour has threatened such action. In the run-up to the 2015 election, the then Labour leader Ed Miliband provoked a firestorm when he told property developers to ‘either use the land or lose the land’. Business leaders described it as ‘Stalinist threat to property rights.
The land grab agenda of today’s party leadership goes much further.
Labour is cloaking its proposals in the disguise of being ‘good for communities’, arguing that challenging land ownership will deliver a fundamental shift in wealth and power.
This ignores the fact that one of the fundamental principles on which social solidarity in Britain rests is that of a property-owning democracy.
Indeed, this was one of the underpinnings of the Thatcherite revolution which allowed council home residents, many of them Labour loyalists, to buy a property and take control of their own bit of Britain.
It is no exaggeration to say that the UK’s green and pleasant land – by the way, Labour plans on appropriating agricultural land for ‘small farmers’ too – is under threat as never before.
And our hard-earned status as the fifth most prosperous country in the world could be imperilled.
It is with good cause that a Corbyn government is already regarded as more frightening than a No Deal Brexit by entrepreneurs, business and overseas investors