Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Bad News For The Secretive Millionaire

My MP, Paul Uppal, represents a largely inner-city, poor area, though there's a fringe of rich suburbia on the western edge. He never mentions the fact that he's a multi-millionaire, nor that the cash comes from property speculation: he prefers the term 'business'.

He's wise to do so: YouGov and Cambridge University conducted some very interesting research, in which imaginary candidates were presented to voters. Each time a candidate's salary was increased, support dropped. When the biography was altered to show the candidate made his money in 'finance', his ratings dropped hugely. When he made millions from finance, he plummeted like a stone.
The final third of the sample saw an even more wealthy John – this time earning a cool million a year – and with even more negative results.  George now led on every question, and on overall preference by 24 points: just 24% of the sample chose the millionaire John as their preferred candidate, 48% chose George.
Just 15% of the sample said that they would like the millionaire financier as their candidate, compared to 45% who chose exactly the same candidate, with the same interests and backgrounds, but just earning less money.  That said, it’s not that extra money hurts financiers any more – it’s just they start from a lower base.  The difference between our businessman on average income and one earning a million was a drop of 57 percentage points in his lead over the competing candidate; the difference between a financier on average income  and one on a million was 60 percentage points.
So money hurts – and a lot of money hurts a lot.  It would be perfectly plausible for voters to have rewarded candidates for being financially successful – on the basis that someone who had succeeded for themselves might be exactly the sort of person you would want advocating for you. But there is no evidence of that at all.  
(Sorry about the formatting: Blogger really is rubbish)

I'm really hoping that this angle is pushed at the next election. Uppal's never contributed to the community. He's never employed people. He's never invented or made anything. All he's done is generate money for himself - and I strongly suspect he's taken the cash as capital gains (low tax rate) rather than as salary (higher tax rate). As a millionaire, this would mean he paid less tax as a proportion of his income than me, nurses, teachers and cleaners. w

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