This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

OK... I'll be honest

I actually don't mind paying taxes. There I have said it. I am not wild about shelling out money for anything but I regard tax as the price I pay for living in a fair, safe and decent country. Parks, police officers and pot holes all have to paid for. Without these basic public services, we would all be far poorer: a replacement car wheel is one heck of a lot more expensive than a small rise in council tax, for example.

Most people, I believe, know this and whilst we all grumble about tax, it is one of the two facts of life (the other being famously 'death'). There are some extremists who want to roll back the clock to the 1930s (or even further) and have a society where only the wealthy can feel a modicum of ease. These are the neo-liberals who want to either privatise or stop altogether essential public services. You know who you are.

But you may wonder why I am writing this blog this morning? Last night I got involved in one of these type of twitter debates:

Without rehashing the whole debate, I rashly tweeted a small red rag twitter post to @screwlabour, whom I follow to keep my blood pressure up. He reacted with indignation that I was accusing him of lying (which I wasn't) and that surely I would know that Labour was planning to raise taxes after the next election if Labour wins.

Despite me tweeting that the plans to introduce a Mansion Tax and recreate an upper level of tax at 50% were hardly news, he insisted on asking me to say it again (and again)... and a whole hoard of his 'mini-trolls' (as I called them) arrived to tweet at me too. I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz:

Anyway, so here's the thing:
  • Yes, Benjamin/@ScrewLabour, in precise terms you were telling the truth: the Labour Party will probably raise taxes after May 2015 when it forms the Government, along the lines already announced, & to be confirmed, in the forthcoming manifesto
  • The current Government also raised taxes (VAT) and found lots of other ingenious ways to take money off some very poor people (Bedroom Tax, benefits sanctions, reductions in council tax benefits etc) and will probably do so after the next election if the Tories remain in power
  • All governments need to raise taxes: the politics comes into by how much and how fairly. 
  • VAT is a regressive tax which hurts people on lower incomes disproportionately more than people on higher incomes. It is an unfair tax
  • The current Government has added to the national debt by an absolute amount greater than all (yes: all) previous Labour chancellors put together.
  • And the deficit is rising again. 
  • There are three ways to balance the books: raise taxes, cut spending, and grow the economy. Because the latter wasn't working so well, Osborne chose to change tack in 2012 and since then has not worried so much about the deficit. Until now when an election is looming...
  • "It's the economy stupid" is not the same as "It's the taxes stupid". Whole armies of Tory tweeters jumping up and down about taxes won't change that fact. Some of the most affluent, educated, urbane and peaceful countries have higher rates of tax than the UK (gosh...I wonder why that could be...?)
  • I now fully expect to get flamed and insulted (again) with such profound remarks as this

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