Nick Clegg has told the Guardian that he wants to see a time limited extra tax for the wealthiest so that it can be seen that they are shouldering their share of the burden of the country's economic challenges. He warned that, with the "economic war" we're facing likely to be longer term than we thought, it wouldn't be either "socially or politically sustainable or acceptable" if the richest weren't asked to pay more.
If we are going to ask people for more sacrifices over a longer period of time, a longer period of belt tightening as a country, then we just have to make sure that people see it is being done as fairly and as progressively as possible.
We already know that the Liberal Democrats have already made sure that the rich pay more tax on their Capital Gains while the lowest paid pay less tax. Nick Clegg also insisted that benefits should be uprated in line with inflation last year, against the wishes of the Conservatives and of course we have seen the biggest cash rise in the State Pension ever. None of these things would have happened without us being in Government.
Nick didn't give any specific details of how the "time limited contribution" would work. Our conference in three weeks' time will provide the prime opportunity to unveil the proposal.
Liberal Democrat Voice c0-editor Mark Pack, while welcoming the policy, expressed concerns at the clumsiness of the language Nick used to describe it. Certainly
we need to really hard-wire fairness into what we do in the next phases of fiscal restraint
is not a phrase we want to see on too many leaflets.
While many Liberal Democrats will welcome such a bold statement from the leader, and will strongly support his proposals, they will also want to see more measures to actively relieve the pressure on the poorest, particularly those whose sickness benefits have been time limited and who are struggling as a consequence. The Conference will also be debating a wide-ranging motion on inequality which will tackle some of those issues.
Labour were typically quick to criticise Nick's proposal - but it's significantly more radical than anything they managed to do. A modest rise in income tax for the wealthiest a month before leaving office didn't really cut it, especially when it's wealth and unearned income which require greater attention from HMRC.
And, finally, it's good to see the Guardian publish a nice picture of Nick smiling for a change. They do exist and should be used more often.