John McDonnell`s description of May`s announcement on the new funding for the NHS as a "publicity stunt" is spot-on, with the health service and social care "in crisis, after eight years of Tory cuts and privatisation" (Morning Star, 18/06/18). Desperate to provide the public with some positive news after months of botched Brexit negotiations and Tory party disunity, the prime minister even resorted to a pledge that all increases in taxes would be done in "a fair and balanced way". When in its history has the Tory party ever imposed fair and balanced taxes? Who can forget that when the first austerity measures were introduced in 2010, they were accompanied by a decrease in the top rate of income tax, with claims that the so-called Laffer Curve demanded it? In Tory eyes, fair taxes mean a reduction in the amount paid by the rich and well-off, taxes that can be avoided and evaded, and taxes on company profits which are amongst the lowest in the world.
Rather than announcing all-out war on tax evasion, or an increase in income tax to be paid by those earning over three times the national average, or rates of 85% on all "earnings" over £500,000, or an increase in corporation tax to 30%, Hammond, the Chancellor, will fund the NHS increase, using the Tory definitions of "fairness" and "balance".
In other words, we can expect a freezing of the rise in thresholds and an increase in the basic income tax rate, with the ridiculous idea that this is the only way the NHS can be saved, or some such nonsense which the right-wing press will support. How can people whose real wages have consistently fallen in recent years, whose benefits have been slashed and debts increased, and whose rent to greedy landlords takes up to 50% of their earnings, afford to pay more in taxation? Any further cuts in the spending power of those earning less than average pay will only do more damage to already fragile local economies.