Nick Clegg was accused of being all talk and no trousers today after he called for a "wealth tax" on the rich in a sudden change of heart.
The Deputy Prime Minister said Britain's wealthiest should make an "extra contribution" to the "national effort" of economic recovery.
He suggested that those of "very considerable personal wealth" could make a "time-limited contribution" as the country faced a "long economic war."
Mr Clegg gave no more details about how he envisioned such a tax would be implemented although he is expected to flesh out his thoughts at the party's autumn conference in Brighton next month.
But his latest comments don't tally with his voting record.
Shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie said: "Nick Clegg is once again taking the British people for fools. He talks about a tax on the wealthiest but he voted for the tax cut for millionaires in George Osborne's budget.
"And he has supported a failing economic plan which has pushed Britain into a double-dip recession and is leading to borrowing going up by a quarter so far this year."
Left Economics Advisory Panel chairman Andrew Fisher said: "Coming just a matter of months after he voted to reduce the 50 per cent tax rate on the super-rich, Mr Clegg's pledge to tax the wealthy will be met by a chorus of derision.
"The term for isolated dissident voices in the Blair cabinet was 'useful idiot'. In the coalition cabinet, one would question whether Clegg retains the moniker 'useful'."
Paisley and Renfrewshire North Labour MP Jim Sheridan added: "Nick Clegg's stance on taxing the rich would have more credibility had he made it three years ago and not supported the Tories ideologically driven move to undermine, degrade and privatise huge elements of our public services."
Mr Clegg's sudden raising of the issues appears to indicate a renewed bid to distance his party's economic approach with their Tory bedfellows.
The Lib Dem leader will also be acutely aware of the potential political fallout for the party of continuing cuts to welfare that hit the poorest.
Chancellor George Osborne responded with the tired mantra that the wealthy would leave the country if they became subject to a temporary tax.
He claimed he had already taken steps to ensure the country's highest earners pay more but insisted it was vital to hang on to entrepreneurs who would fuel the economic recovery.
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