The ultra-rich hold us to ransom again

Blair selfie in front of pile of cashGreed is good, or at least that’s what the bankers and CEOs of the biggest companies think. What is surprising is not their avaricious self-interest and total indifference to everyone else, but the blatancy with which they flaunt it. As their leader so movingly put it, they’re all in it together – the CEOs of Ocado and Kingfisher, those Labour sell-outs Lord (Digby) Jones and Lord Myners (both worth a bob or two in the City), and inevitably Boris Johnson.

The only omission was Blair, but no doubt it would have been too much of an embarrassment even for him now that he’s reputed to be worth £40 million. The cacophony of financial selfies that Balls’ modest proposal has elicited is extremely revealing. It shows what a tin ear they have to the tightening squeeze being imposed on 90% of the population, where 60% of voters sampled in a poll approved of Labour’s move, even including Conservatives. Continue reading

The 50p tax rate – a welcome blow against the entitlement culture

50p pieceDid Ed Balls announce the nationalisation of the top 100 monopolies or something at yesterday’s Fabian conference? I was there, and he assuredly did not. To make sure the dangerous radicalism of putting 5p on the top rate of tax was boxed in, he even ruled out renationalising energy companies and the rail. And yet, according to Lord Myners in today’s Telegraph restoring the 50p tax rate for earners in receipt of an income on excess of £150,000 is “old Labour” and the “politics of envy“. As the good lord is on the boards of several successful firms, I think he has an interest to declare. Continue reading

We shouldn’t cut taxes for the rich – we should raise them

Yesterday, we learned that right-wing economists don’t like progressive taxation. Not a bombshell, you would think: but a letter signed by 20 economists (£) calling for the 50p tax band to be scrapped was deemed important enough to be the BBC’s main news story. If you’re wondering who’s behind this initiative, it’s being funded by big business using the PR firm Westbourne. This is a blatant attempt by the rich and powerful to soften up public opinion into supporting their selfish economic interests. It’s an old trick of the wealthy to conflate their interests with those of society as a whole. Continue reading

50p tax rate? Nowhere near enough

The idea that the rest of us suffer because the super rich are subject to a nominal tax rate of 50p – and that’s the claim that 20 leading economists advance in the Financial Times this morning – is special pleading at its worst. What’s more, it is entirely intellectually spurious, too.

For a start, in the real world most of them don’t pay anywhere near what the 50p figure suggests. As one private equity chief admitted a few years back, many of them are able to arrange their fiscal affairs to ensure that they shell out proportionately less to the Inland Revenue than do their cleaning ladies. That loophole may have since closed, but plenty of others remain very much open. Continue reading

Cutting 50p tax rate is unfair and unnecessary

One has to rub one’s eyes. Britain is smack on course for a double-dip recession, the collapse of consumer and business confidence is ubiquitous, the manufacturing PMI barometer is turning down more sharply even than after the Lehman Brothers collapse, the US housing and labour markets remain extremely fragile, the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis is worsening by the day, both the IMF and World Bank are now counselling strongly against cutting debt too much too fast, and what is our myopic Chancellor’s response to this cataclysm of bad news……………..abolish the top 50% tax rate! That’s like opening an air-bag when the carburettor’s stalled to get the car moving again. He must be delusional if he thinks it’s either (i) relevant, (ii) necessary, (iii) fair, or (iv) appropriate. It’s none of them. Continue reading