Posts Tagged ‘taxation’

On tax, Labour must remember: “It’s not our money stupid, it’s theirs”

11/10/2012, 08:00:20 AM

by Peter Watt

So the battle of the speeches is over.  All three leaders made pretty good speeches.  Nick Clegg, who I have a soft spot for, probably had the toughest job of all but seemed to go down well in the hall at least.  But the real battle was Miliband versus Cameron.

Trying to be non-biased, I think that Ed Miliband just won the battle, although David Cameron   wasn’t far behind.  They were both very similar in that they were both very personal, focused on values and were policy light.  They were also both used as opportunities to attack the other; both with some force; and both speeches were passionate and effective.

But in truth, Ed Miliband managed to use his speech to build much needed confidence in him from his party.  Critically he also managed to persuade a sceptical press that he really could win an election.   It may or may not have been a game changer but it was certainly a very significant event in the slow run-up to the election in 2015.  For that reason I think that he won the battle.  But he has not yet won the war.

There were two very significant passages in the speeches.  The first from Ed:

“A tax cut for millionaires. Next April, David Cameron will be writing a cheque for £40,000 to each and every millionaire in Britain. Not just for one year. But each and every year.”

And the second is from David Cameron’s speech in response:

“I sometimes wonder if they know anything about the real economy at all.  Did you hear what Ed Miliband said last week about taxes?  He described a tax cut as the government writing people a cheque.  Ed… Let me explain to you how it works.  When people earn money, it’s their money.   Not the government’s money: their money.  Then, the government takes some of it away in tax.  So, if we cut taxes, we’re not giving them money – we’re taking less of it away.  OK?”

Put aside the silly looseness in language from Ed over the “each and every millionaire” line, these two passages hold the key to one of the central battles of the next election – Labour’s competence on the economy.

Unless and until Labour really does understand the tax point then they will struggle to convince people that they are not profligate “tax-and-spenders”.   The truth is that too many people in Labour really do think that taxation is an inherently good thing.  That somehow taxing people, the state taking peoples’ own money from them, is somehow morally right.


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The joy of tax

24/04/2012, 07:30:33 AM

by Peter Goddard

Let’s play a game.

Add another word to the following to make a popular phrase… “Tax _____”

What did you answer? Burden? Evasion? Avoider? Loophole?

Whatever it was, the chances are you weren’t thinking anything positive. “Tax hero”? “Tax Embracer”? Unlikely.

The debate around tax, on both side of the political divide always seems to revolve around who isn’t paying enough, who is benefitting too much and inevitably, who is cheating.

But whilst the activities of UK Uncut and their ilk play a valuable role in exposing corporations and individuals who are paying far less than their perceived fair share, are we missing a trick on the other side of the equation?

When I donate £25 to Save the Children, I receive an effusive thank you and the assurance that I have bought ‘safe birth kits’ for five women giving birth at home.

When I give £10 a month to adopt a leopard with the World Wildlife Fund, I receive an effusive ‘thank you’ from the recipients. I also receive regular updates about my newly-saved jaguar and, if I want, a cuddly toy.

And yet when I pay thousands of pounds each year to HMRC, what do I get? To stay out of prison.

Whilst I am a huge fan of not going to prison, it is hardly surprising that thousands of people and companies choose to minimise the amount of tax they pay, sometimes using the mechanism of giving money to charity to reduce their payments.

Either way, the individual is paying out, but at least with charity they have a feeling of wellbeing and a cuddly leopard to show for it.

So why is nobody making any attempt to celebrate the people who do indeed “pay their way”?


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A man for all seasons: Dan Hodges interviews Peter Hain

15/10/2010, 09:00:36 AM

Hain. A signature surname. No introductions necessary.

Some politicians travel on a journey. Peter Hain streaks like a comet.

Anti-apartheid insurgency. Letter bombs. Arrest. Conspiracy. Sensational acquittal. Liberal activism. Labour defection. Left wing standard bearer. Moderniser. Cabinet minister.

It’s a biography most politicians would die for. And those are just the highlights. Where, Uncut wonders, can Peter Hain possibly be heading next.

“Chairman of the national policy forum”.

Oh. Er, that’s a bit prosaic isn’t it? What about policy guru? Or supremo? Ed Miliband personally selected you for this role. Surely it must come with some grand honorific?

“I’m also Ed’s representative on the national executive”. Representative? Not capo? Consigliere? We’ll work on it.

“What I want to say to followers of Labour Uncut is – ‘I’m interested in your ideas. If you’ve got a new ideas or policies, I’d like to hear them’”.

Brilliant. Uncut’s followers – we do like to think of ourselves as something of a cult – are all ears. This is fresh. Innovative. Hain – the Peter Hain – is reaching out to us. The doors of the policy forum, the inner-sanctum where Blairite alchemists concocted their heady third-way brew, are to be thrown open. How will it work, Peter? Tell us. Bring us within the fold.

“Well, at the moment, you know, I’ve only just been recommended for this post. I’m just interested in new ideas basically”.

Ideas. Well, I’m sure we can come up with some. Maybe need a little steer though. Bit of guidance. Know it’s a fresh dawn and everything. New politics. Inclusivity. But after all those years of visionary leadership and iron discipline, perhaps a little nudge?

“It’s my job to act as funnel for Ed Miliband’s vision and strategic objectives to be channelled through. And then for the party to be engaged in that”.

So what is Ed Miliband’s big vision?


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