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By Peter Hoskin
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What larks in Eastleigh! As various Tory MPs have tweeted in identikit
fashion
, the Lib Dem candidate has today ‘fessed up to voting for 5,000 new
homes to be built on previously undeveloped green space – and this despite
campaign literature which warns that “countryside spaces between our towns and
villages across the borough of Eastleigh are under new threat thanks to
Hampshire Conservatives”. Grant Shapps puts it thus:

“The Lib Dems Eastleigh campaign is in
turmoil. Their central promise to the people of Eastleigh is to protect the
local area’s green spaces. But now their candidate has admitted that they will
concrete over the countryside with their plans for 5,000 new houses on green
field sites.

The Liberal Democrats cannot mislead
the voters forever – they’ve been found out. Nick Clegg now needs to apologise
for the Lib Dems’ totally inaccurate claims.”

And there’s another Lib Dem-related story that CCHQ has set about exploiting
today: the Mail
on Sunday splash
about Team Clegg’s plans to extend wealth taxes into your
jewellery box. According to the paper, the Lib Dem leadership is considering—alongside
the introduction of a souped-up mansion tax—an idea to allow taxmen into people’s
homes to value, and then slap levies across, assets such as necklaces and
paintings. Admittedly, Vince Cable has since played down many elements of the
story, but not before Tories across
Twitter
seized on it with alacrity and gratitude.

In truth, the Lib Dems’ general eagerness to tax wealth creates as much a
conundrum for the Tory leadership as a target. Of course, it’s easy to strike
out at any jewellery tax, but a stronger variety of mansion tax is a different
matter altogether. As “one influential figure” suggests
to James Forsyth
, Labour's sympathy for such a levy could alter the balance
of negotiations in the event of another hung parliament – meaning that “Cameron
will have to fold and accept a mansion tax as the price of power.”

Myself, I think the Tories shouldn’t dismiss higher taxes on expensive
properties out-of-hand – for reasons I've set
out before
. But this is hardly a possiblity that will cheer many party
members.

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