Labour leader Keir Starmer is being attacked again by the Daily Mail.
With Labour continuing to enjoy a healthy lead in the opinion polls, the Tory-supporting paper wants to convince its readers that he is coming after their money.
In an attempt to paint the Labour leader as a Jeremy Corbyn-style left-wing class warrior, the Mail is highlighting Starmer’s plan to make private schools pay VAT.
Since they are classed as charities, the schools currently enjoy an exemption, which means they don’t have to put the 20% charge onto the fees paid by parents.
Under Labour’s policy the extra £1.7 billion raised for the Treasury would be spent on improving state education.
Despite the fact that the move was first announced more than a year ago, the Daily Mail has devoted its front page to attacking it yesterday and today.
On Monday, their splash headline declared: “Fury Over Starmer Class War On Private Schools.”
— George Mann ⚒️ (@sgfmann) November 27, 2022
And this morning, the Mail’s front page says: “Keir’s Class War Threat To 200 Private Schools.”
— Allie Hodgkins-Brown (@AllieHBNews) November 28, 2022
But awkwardly for the paper, supporters of removing private schools’ charitable status include that left-wing class warrior, er, Michael Gove.
Writing in The Times in 2017, the leading Tory said: “Private school fees are VAT-exempt. That tax advantage allows the wealthiest in this country, indeed the very wealthiest in the globe, to buy a prestige service that secures their children a permanent positional edge in society at an effective 20 per cent discount.
“How can this be justified? I ask the question in genuine, honest inquiry. If Times readers can tell me why we should continue to provide such egregious state support to the already wealthy so that they might buy advantage for their own children, I would be fascinated.”
Unsurprisingly, Labour politicians and other social media users have been quick to point out the apparent flaw in the Daily Mail’s attack on Keir Starmer.
“Removing the tax advantages of private schools would boost standards in the state sector and raise vital extra funds.”
For once, I agree with Michael Gove. It’s just a shame the Prime Minister doesn’t. https://t.co/LZUXBzjpwR
— Bridget Phillipson (@bphillipsonMP) November 28, 2022
Michael Gove: Put VAT on Private Schools (Times) https://t.co/NTvloTaBRq
— Angry John of Bradford (@BD_Angry) November 28, 2022
Meanwhile, one Twitter user pointed out that the Tories’ own 2017 election manifesto even raised the prospect of charging private schools VAT if they did not do more to help the state sector.
It's hardly Jeremy Corbyn policy. Michael Gove argued for a VAT on fees. Robert Halfon argued for a private schools levy and further restrictions on charitable status. Both are ministers in Cabinet. In 2017 the Conservative party pledged the following in their manifesto:- pic.twitter.com/jYoVVuFy9K
— sam (@samjonesgo) November 28, 2022