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Honestly, is there a more disproportionately over-politicised tax? Two problems with this ‘ere idea of Darling, darling!‘s idea to temporarily suspend stamp duty.

1. It won’t work, according to Dr Cable.

2. It won’t work, according to Everybody Who Has A Job And Lives In A House.

Our Vince’s problem is that artificial boosting is the last thing we need in an overheated market that badly needs to be allowed to recover naturally (though he qualifies this carefully in a CiF piece on Northern Wreck, stressing that he is “not arguing for laissez faire” and that mortgage lenders should observe a strict code of conduct when dealing with arrears etc etc). It will also harm the tax take further at a time of natural slowdown.

Everybody Who Has A Job And Lives In A House’s problem is that suspending stamp duty will be about as likely to have an impact on the decisions of the average first-time buyer as the economic stance of the Kingdom of the Potato People. It’s bonkers, this notion that in a market where the average house is worth a sum approaching 1000% of the average salary that the alleviation of a 1-5% sting in the tail is going to be the occasion for anything other than hollow laughter. And let’s be clear, Darling, darling!, first time buyers is what this is all about. If the government really is barking enough to want to kickstart an overheated market, then they’ve got to introduce significant supplies of fresh demand rather than start a game of state-sponsored musical chairs among existing home-owners. And they’ve chosen one of the Ways Least Likely to do it.

What are these people thinking? Not just the politicians who periodically try to make political capital out of lowering/scrapping stamp duty “to help struggling first time buyers”, but the journalists who apparently wipe their brains of everything they know off by heart at a dinner table for long enough to write a report on it with a straight face. Where does it end? Any chance the press team would consider testing the point with a press release explaining how the Liberal Democrats plan to help struggling farmers by giving them all a free packet of Baby Bio?

Sometimes I wonder if I am an alien sent here for the purposes of research with a modified memory which  is getting a bit worn and needs a new Imporosity Patch, and so memories of the economic circumstances of my home planet keep leaking through (whaddya mean, you never get that?) Because the one, the only, the sole way this insane proposal would make sense would be if everybody was paid in bubble mixture and a decent house costed a small handful of lentils and stamp duty was compulsorily rendered in bits of yellow string, and it was generally possible to achieve an barter rate of 1,000 lentils per pot of bubble mixture but yellow string was absolutely unobtainable unless you were a lentil quadrillionaire. Is this how it works on earth, then?

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