By Tony Hudson
Labour will try to drive a wedge through the coalition when it forces a Commons vote on mansion tax in the coming weeks, Ed Miliband announced today.
The Labour leader made the announcement while campaigning alongside Eastleigh by-election candidate John O'Farrell, just days after a highly-publicised speech calling for the reintroduction of the 10p tax rate and a tax on houses worth over £2 million.
"We know the Conservatives oppose this measure, even though it would only affect a small number of houses worth over £2m," he said.
"They wrote to their multi-millionaire donors solemnly promising they would not let anyone tax their mansions."
The decision to force a Commons vote is a clear effort to get the Lib Dems to vote against their coalition partners on an issue they have long campaigned for.
"There could be a majority in the House of Commons when it votes on our proposal, but only if the Liberal Democrats vote with Labour," Miliband said.
"Now the Lib Dems say they are in favour of a mansion tax. Well, they once said they were in favour of abolishing tuition fees too."
He added: "It's time for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats to be honest with the people of Eastleigh and show whose side are they on.
"They must answer this question: will they vote with Labour in advance of the Budget to force David Cameron and George Osborne to act?
"Or will the Liberal Democrats do what they've done for two-and-a-half years: prop up a Tory government that is squeezing the living standards of the middle harder and harder?"
Forcing a vote on the mansion tax is a politically astute move from the Labour leader. If enough Liberal Democrats vote in favour of the mansion tax it could pass.
The Conservatives have said that they will not vote for a 'homes tax', while the Liberal Democrats included it as part of their 2010 manifesto. George Osborne consistently slapped down efforts by business secretary Vince Cable to have the tax included in coalition Budgets.
The Eastleigh visit from Miliband comes after trips by David Cameron and Nick Clegg, as all three party leaders fight to win one of the most hotly contested by-elections in recent memory.