Kezia’s got a brand new plan. On the day that Jackie Baillie publishes an article for a Labour blog saying that we need more honesty in Scottish politics, you might think that we’d had our quota of irony for the week, but then Kezia goes and meets her irony and raises her some parody with a wizzard wheeze that even on a cursory inspection isn’t so much a wheeze as a death rattle for an expiring party, the Better Together Tax. Yes dear reader, Labour wants you to pay for the privilege of being a part of this great Union and having all your public services slashed by Tory basterts that not only did you not vote for, but that no one you know voted for either.
There’s your Union dividend right there, it’s a dividend you pay to the Union. You get crap public services, low wages and high taxes. You get all the things that the No campaign claimed you’d get with independence, only without any of the advantages. You don’t get self-determination and the Scottish parliament doesn’t get the ability to apply economic measures that benefit Scotland, but hey you do get patriotic baked goods programmes and lots of royal fawning on your state broadcaster, nuclear missiles in your back garden, and a democratic deficit. You may, as a bonus prize, be estranged from the rest of the European continent even though you faithfully attended classes in conversational German at your local community centre right up until it was closed in the round of service cuts before this one. Gawd bless Britain eh.
Labour fought alongside the Tories during the referendum campaign to prevent Scotland having the ability to make its own decisions, and then connived with them in the Smith Commission to add so much water to the promises of the No campaign that a homoepathic remedy appears strong smelling by comparison. Vote Yes and you’ll have to pay higher taxes they alarumed. And now after a No vote they’re planning to put them up anyway. Labour wants Scottish workers to pay for Labour’s own hypocrisy. That’s hypocrisy squared that is, that’s Jackie Baillie on Reporting Scotland complaining that her views on the NHS never get publicity. That’s James Kelly appearing on Britain’s Got Talent as a wit and ranconteur. That’s Ian Murray shedding a tear when he’s excluded from a vote in the Commons.
Labour wants to increase the rate of income tax by a penny in the pound. But because Labour and its Tory and Lib Dem pals spent more energy than the Duracell Bunny on steroids when it came to stopping Scotland getting proper tax powers, all that’s currently available to Holyrood is increasing all the income tax bands by the same amount. Labour didn’t want Holyrood to have the ability to tax businesses, it only wanted Holyrood to have the ability to tax human beings. Because human beings vote, and unfortunately for Labour most of them in Scotland currently vote SNP. Maybe if Labour could force the SNP to raise taxes then people would stop voting SNP? However since the SNP are currently showing no inclination to walk into the cunning trap, Labour has decided to do it for them, in order to demonstrate how it should be done. The upshot of the plan means that the poorest paid taxpayers will see tax rises as well as the better off. This is Labour’s idea of progressive taxation. The only thing progressive about it is that it progressively buries Labour a bit more.
When your great hope is the slogan “One in four taxpayers won’t pay more” you’re as well as putting “We’re totally screwed” on the first page of your manifesto. Even a three year old knows that what Labour’s slogan means is “Three out of four taxpayers will pay more.” And those who will pay more are the nurses, care workers, ambulance drivers, teachers and teaching assistants, nursery staff, community support workers, and all the other public service workers whose wages have been progressively squeezed over the past few years.
Even from a political party which had an image of efficiency and capability this would be a dumb move. Sadly for Labour the only image they are still capable of is gobsmacking us with their own stupidity. That’s something they’re amazingly efficient about.
Ah but, say Labour, the poorest paid will qualify for a rebate, tax return, freebie, gift, of £100 from their local authority. That means that the lowest paid won’t be penalised after all, so there, we are so pure dead progressive and forward thinking. And James Kelly MSP lights up a room with his sparkling wit and repartee.
Scotland’s budget gets cut because of decisions made by a government which has insignificant support in Scotland, and which takes no heed of Scottish opinion. Labour fought for that. Better Together means we get to pay twice, in Tory cuts and in Labour tax rises. Meanwhile our public services suffer, our infrastructure deteriorates, and the Westminster grindstone crushes the seeds of something better.
If this is a policy decided in a focus group, then Labour need to go to Specsavers because this policy isn’t focussed at all. Just how are local authorities going to identify the lowest paid taxpayers in order to refund them the money that Labour has clawed out of their pay packet? Labour doesn’t know. How much is it going to cost to administer this process and how long will it take for the systems to be put in place? Labour doesn’t know. Is this money not going to count as income in the eyes of the Inland Revenue and be subject to tax, so it might not really be £100 after all? Labour doesn’t know. Will any money raised by Holyrood to make up the cuts imposed by Westminster merely provoke a further reduction in the block grant? Labour doesn’t know. Will Labour in Scotland raise taxes on Scotland’s low and middle earners every time that their former Tory allies cut the block grant? Labour won’t say.
Scotland’s voters do know. They know that Labour is clueless and inept. They’ll have their say on Labour’s Better Together Tax in May.
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