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London mayor calls for tax cuts for ‘put-upon’ super-rich

London mayor calls for tax cuts for ‘put-upon’ super-rich
London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, has urged people to stop wasting "moral or mental energy in being jealous of the very rich," and said they should receive "automatic knighthoods" for their "heroic contribution" to government finances and charity.

"It is through their restless concupiscent energy and sheer wealth-creating dynamism that we pay for an ever-growing proportion of public services," said Johnson, who has been Conservative mayor of London since 2008. A charismatic right-winger with an erratic streak, Johnson is widely regarded as a potential future leader of the ruling Conservative Party, which with the smaller Liberal Democratic Party is facing a challenge to its coalition government in parliamentary elections due in 2015.

Johnson added that the top 1 percent of UK earners currently pay 29.8 percent of all the income tax and National Insurance received by the UK Treasury. In 1979, they paid only 11 percent of income tax, Johnson wrote in his article, published in The Daily Telegraph.

In his ode to the rich, Johnson said: "It is possible, as the American economist Art Laffer pointed out, that they might contribute even more if we cut their rates of tax."

Urging others to stop "bashing the rich," Johnson argued that it was his duty "to stick up for every put-upon minority in the city – from the homeless to Irish travellers to ex-gang members to disgraced former MPs."

“But there is one minority that I still behold with a benign bewilderment, and that is the very, very rich,"
Johnson wrote.

In a bid to raise awareness about the contribution of the super-rich to the UK economy, Johnson said that "these are the people who put bread on the tables of families who – if the rich didn’t invest in supercars and employ eau de cologne-dabbers – might otherwise find themselves without a breadwinner.” And in a swipe at the Conservatives’ junior partners in the government coalition, the Liberal Democrats, Johnson added: “And yet they are brow-beaten and bullied and threatened with new taxes, by everyone from the Archbishop of Canterbury to [Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister] Nick Clegg."

Noting that the rich are resented not so much for being rich, but for getting ever richer than the middle classes, he said they are actually "no happier than anyone else; they just have more money."


The London Assembly's Labour group leader responded to the mayor's article on his Twitter: “Many hard-pressed Londoners will find Boris’ views on the super-rich difficult to stomach, at a time when people are struggling with the cost of living crisis his comments are deeply offensive."

“Rather than cosying up to the 0.1 per cent he should be spending his time using his position as our Mayor to ease the burden on ordinary Londoners,” Len Duvall wrote.

Journalist Adam Bienkov, of Politics.co.uk, said that Johnson's comparison between the super-rich and homeless people "will enrage campaigners against homelessness."

"The London Mayor had promised to end rough sleeping in London by the end of 2012. However, research released this year found that the number of rough sleepers had doubled in the capital over the past five years," Bienkov wrote.

After winning a second term as mayor in an election last year, Johnson promised to make the capital's economy a priority. But earlier this year, Business Minister Michael Fallon and Housing Minister Mark Prisk criticized Boris Johnson for his failure to help the capital's economy and spend £111 million granted by the national government to the mayor last year to invest in the city’s infrastructure.

Speaking at the Institute of Directors annual convention in mid-September, Johnson said that London was "the most competitive city in the whole community," and that its economy "drives jobs across Europe."

But Johnson came under fire after he said in the same speech that the "UK economy has finally reached its Costa Concordia moment."

"Because after two-and-a-half years of parbuckling, the labour is complete and the rotation has been accomplished and though the damage is still, I think, manifest and the caissons have not yet been entirely drained of debt, I think you would agree that the keel is off the rocks and at last we can feel motion, relief."

Many questioned the controversial reference to the wrecked cruise ship, which crashed in January 2012, killing 32 people.