Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Dealing with inequality

Both Miliband and Axelrod have hinted that the obscene inequality in this country, currently placing Britain 28th in the equality league table out of 34, will play a major role in the general election campaign. So how about, for starters, proposing a sliding scale of income tax, with 45% for £70-149K earners, 50% for £150-200K, 60% for £200-250K, stopping at 80%? It would not seem unreasonable to the majority of people in this country; even under Thatcher, the rich paid 60% income tax. Support for a Tobin-type tax on financial transactions, joining with the majority of the EU on this, would be popular, as would increasing the minimum wage to living wage levels, and promising legislation to introduce Co-determination, on lines similar to its use in Germany, with trade union representatives on company boards. Whilst nationalisation on a large scale will not appear on the manifesto, a proposal for a state-owned bank and energy company could attract customers with more attractive rates, simply by having 3% profit margins rather than the 5+% of the private sector, and thereby force a change of tune from existing providers. The millions paying a high proportion of their income to profiteering landlords would welcome their rents being capped at 2010 levels, and also the introduction of an Ofsted-style inspection authority, to ensure rents are fair and properties well maintained. 
    No plans for redistribution of wealth would be complete without proposals to deal with tax evasion and avoidance, and after this government`s rhetoric-only approach, making a difference should not be hard; how about re-employing the thousands of tax inspectors who have lost their jobs at HMRC and ending "sweetheart deals" for starters? The idea that tax avoiders of any type should be awarded, or keep when found out, their honours or right to represent this country, is preposterous. Charitable status for private schools could also be ended, and money to the Treasury increased by VAT being imposed on school fees.

   We have to hope that Miliband was telling the truth when he promised a political party different from the others. What is the point of being a Labour Prime Minister if all you intend to do is tinker rather than transform?

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