Newcastle MPs cave in to whip and fail to oppose tax cuts for better off

November 4, 2018 8:48 PM

Liberal Democrats turn spotlight on Newcastle East MP Nick Brown's role in whipping Labour MPs to abstain in Budget tax cut vote

Newcastle's Liberal Democrats Opposition regret that North East Labour MPs on Tyneside didn't have the courage of their convictions in the Budget vote on the Chancellor's plans to raise tax thresholds, which are seen as disproportionately benefiting higher-rate taxpayers rather than those on the lowest incomes.

Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell caused consternation amongst many Labour voters and MPs by announcing that the party would abstain in the vote and suggesting that the party were not opposed to a proposal which will "put more money in people's pockets" - including the best off.

Liberal Democrats parliamentary spokesperson for Newcastle East Tom Gordon, who is a councillor for the High Heaton and Cochrane Park area of the city, is particularly concerned that Newcastle East Labour MP and Labour Chief Whip Nick Brown whipped Labour MPs to abstain in the vote - only one MP for Stockton stood up to him.

Cllr Gordon said:

"We heard much from Labour in recent weeks that they want to bring the Government down at the earliest opportunity to trigger a General Election. They claimed to oppose tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the better off, and decried the crisis in the public finances affecting public services.

"Many people in the North East will be stunned that Jeremy Corbyn's Labour didn't oppose the Conservative government's tax cut plans, which clearly advantage higher rate taxpayers far more than the low paid and those on fixed incomes.

"This is not what Newcastle East constituents expected when they voted Labour. It is the latest in a series of let-downs from Nick Brown and the Labour Party, following their failure to oppose the Government on Brexit and their failure to support lifting the benefits freeze - unlike the Lib Dems, who have campaigned for benefits to rise in line with inflation. We support increasing the tax threshold for basic rate taxpayers but we are not convinced that the time is right for a tax break for the better off. Labour clearly now think differently.

"Allowing these tax cuts to go through is not progressive, fails to redistribute income, and deprives public services of much needed funding. It is certainly not the act of a credible Opposition. We had hoped that North East Labour MPs would have had the courage of their convictions and defy Nick Brown's orders by voting with the Liberal Democrats. We will be reminding their constituents of their decision."