What is wrong with me? As soon as I worked out the SNP strategy on personal taxation, I thought: What a smart idea. They keep taxes where they are but get extra income from the higher earners via the tax threshold. But they don’t even have to take any action to achieve it – just don’t implement Osborne’s tax giveaway. By not implementing someone else’s measure, they even manage to look innocent in the eyes of those paying more.
This plays well with the mass of voters who don’t pay more and think the wealthy should. Not having a different top pay tax rate of 50 per cent also consolidates the tax base by discouraging those with the two-nation option available to them from installing themselves in England for tax purposes. That’s why keeping the same higher rate as the UK makes sense – the modelling shows the extra income raised from a Scotland-only higher rate will be negligible because of defections. Scotland’s growth is also too low and hitting higher earners is unlikely to help in reversing that.
Does anybody disagree this is an adroit bit of business, skirting the potential pitfalls of tax rises and tax cuts or favouring one section over another while raising potentially another £1bn over the parliament?
Committing, more or less, to no personal tax increases during the life of the parliament is a bold, if not reckless, move but is clearly a vote-winner for all of us watching the pennies. You know what you’re getting – or rather what John Swinney’s getting – however fragile the employment scene is for you.
They even found a neat solution to the retention of control over tax thresholds by Whitehall. By introducing a zero rate they can effectively increase the level of income at which you start paying tax, giving Scots a better deal than the Treasury gives the UK. That really is pushing the Smith envelope – right back across the table and adding: Take that.
That’s what I’m worried about. You see I think this is a mini stroke of genius given the deliberate constraints placed upon the Scottish government from a regime desperate to hold on to as much as they could while ceding only enough rope for the Scots to hang themselves. That’s what the rows were about in the fiscal framework – trying to trap us into raising taxes to make the SNP unpopular and win votes for the ‘tax-cutting Tories.’ But they’ve beaten the British hands down and given Ruth Davidson next to nothing to attack.
I also think there is a naivety from those who see tax rises as a virility symbol of radicalism. Taking money out of people’s pockets in a flat economy isn’t radical. It’s reckless. I’ve written before how Kezia Dugdale’s 1p rise is the opposite of anti austerity. Removing money from everyone’s bank account to give it to government, leaves them less to spend which takes it out of circulation and adds to austerity.
I seem to be in a minority judging by what I read online from respected commentators who seem to think Sturgeon has betrayed her instincts, her promises or her supporters. But when the Times of London, right-wing anti-Scottish organ of the high earners, paints the FM as the same as Osborne, I smell a rat. The Times and its anti-SNP clique of writers would like nothing better than an ideologically-driven personal taxation anschluss from the SNP so they can continue to paint them as extremists ready to sacrifice sensible policies and hard-working taxpayers on the alter of ‘separation’.
RISE and its friends are in the business of higher taxes as a matter of doctrine and in a way they’re right. Taxes in the UK have sunk to some of the lowest in the EU. But that’s where we are and preparing the public for more than meagre rises will take serious re-education after 35 years of low tax as a political priority.
Labour have nowhere else to go except to find ways of distinguishing themselves from the SNP. So promises of rises are designed to make the remaining trusties feel good – and morally superior – but neither anecdotally nor in the polling is there any sign of electoral bounce. (I suspect the same of the bogus ‘replacement of the council tax’ which is nothing of the kind – it’s a reworking of the same property-based system).
So I think this is a good move by the SNP which will play well with the voters. Is there an election coming?
Yet I read that it’s a honking howler by Sturgeon to say that keeping the upper tax rate (45 per cent) the same across the UK makes sense. Well, it would be, if we were independent. I remember Scotland voting No. For journalists who read here: We are still in the UK. Sturgeon is responding to what is in front of her, not what she wishes to see. To set a higher rate only to watch taxpayers scurry off over the border would be folly – one that would be rightly excoriated by newspapers.
What some journalists out there can’t stand is that the SNP don’t behave the way they expect or want them to. They refuse to fit into the mainstream narrative. Good for them. Who’d ever trust a journalist? And who is constantly proved to be right in its judgment and carries the goodwill of the Scots while the readership of the papers declines year on year?
Sturgeon fails to meet the demands of a rabidly hostile media and a partisan opposition….isn’t that getting it exactly right?
Ah. Just realised what is wrong with me. I’m an SNP apologist living in la-la land bereft of the faculty of logical thinking. I’ll content myself with the knowledge that I share company with over 50 per cent of my fellow Scots.by