Klass half full or half empty?

Ed Miliband seems to have had a bit of a dust up with singer Myleene Klass last night. It has been the talk of Twitter with some gleefully saying Miliband ‘got owned’. Here’s the video:

To me, I don’t see what all the fuss was about. Klass transparently objected to Labour’s policy of a mansion tax on the grounds that she might have to pay it. Miliband rather casually pointed this out I thought by saying “I understand people don’t like paying more tax”. Klass then went on to make ever more daft arguments, saying “you might as well tax this glass of water” (20% VAT is already charged on mineral water) and “you can’t just point at something and tax it” (that’s exactly what governments have been doing for thousands of years!). I just thought Miliband let her say what she wanted to say, and let that speak for itself. He’d probably quite like it if a few more rich celebrities came out against the mansion tax.

I’m not particularly over the moon with the way Labour want to design the tax, but the principal or taxing unearned wealth – or economic rents as economists call it – seems to me to be a sound one. It’s just a shame Miliband chose to justify the policy in this way:

He’s doing the frankly annoying politician’s trick of saying “we will tax this to pay for that”. That’s not how tax works. Miliband can win this debate, but he should be selling the mansion tax on efficiency/hard to avoid/reducing inequality lines rather than spurious “to pay for the NHS” ones.