joanne mcfaddenJoanne McFadden is standing for the North East Scotland regional list. She says you can’t be angry at the scale of poverty today but unwilling to be part of the solution.

 

During campaigning, and when talking amongst friends and acquaintances of varying political opinions, it becomes quickly clear that nobody is happy or proud that poverty exists to the extent it does in the UK today.

How to tackle it, on the other hand, is a different matter. On that we don’t all agree.

There is no ‘quick fix’ or hefty one-off lump sum of money will ever eradicate poverty. But personally, I think the solution is relatively straightforward. If everyone who is fortunate enough to ‘have’ is willing to share even a little with those who ‘have not’, then everyone across society gains choices and chances to make a good life for themselves and contribute to society and the economy.

Is that not a better place for us all to live? The contribution I’m referring to is called ‘paying taxes’. But here’s where the stark disagreements begin.

Neither the SNP at Holyrood nor the Conservatives in Westminster want to raise taxes. Neither care a jot about wealth distribution, and both see tax rises as a big vote loser. But why should it be a big vote loser, when we all agree that the level of poverty that exists in the 21st century is shameful?

You can’t be outraged and angry at the existence of poverty today, but in the next breath not be willing to be part of the solution. You either want to live in a fairer, more equal and more productive society, or you don’t. Which is it?

For everyone to feel that taxation is fair, then tax avoidance schemes for the very wealthy and for large multi-national organisations have to be curbed. It simply is not acceptable that these high wealth-generating groups avoid paying their dues to our economy and our society.

When we look to other countries for examples of this fairer, more equal society, the one place that springs to mind is Denmark, a country whose residents have polled to be amongst the happiest and most content in the world. They work on average a 32-hour week and yet attain amongst the highest productivity levels in the world. Happy people seem to be productive people.

Denmark, a country where worker’s rights are paramount, people are paid a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work, where parental leave for both men and women is generous, child care provision is excellent, education is first class, they have an efficient top notch health and social care system, they take care of their elderly, and people have a good standard of living, feel valued, included, and have the opportunity to play their part and contribute to society.

Denmark, a country where the highest earners pay up to 60% tax, and most Danes see this more as a duty than a burden.

It is obvious that our low tax, high spend society does not work. Something has to give, and that something is our vital public services, our NHS, our education, our elderly care, our infrastructure, our society. And the people who lose out in this low tax high spend system are those who are amongst the least wealthy in our society. Do we really want to become like America, where the rich are getting richer and the poor can’t afford the basics of human need? Please, no.

This leaves me with a question. What has changed in Britain to result in a society where greed and selfishness have not just become acceptable, but are to be rewarded and admired? In the post war years of the 1940s, everyone found themselves in the same predicament. Everyone had lost out in some way during the war, and it was everyone’s job and responsibility to help rebuild the country.

This common goal to rebuild created a solidarity between all people, and everyone had their part to play. Jobs were created, so much so that we welcomed immigrants to help us to grow our economy. People worked, paid their taxes, played their part.

I was born in 1966, and up until the age of 19 I would say that our society felt much fairer and more equal. I believe one of the key reasons for this was the first class education afforded to all regardless of upbringing.

But since the 1980s ‘yuppie’ years, slowly and almost unnoticed ‘The Me Factor’ has crept up on us, taken hold of our society and changed our values. It is the ‘every man for himself’ attitude that is killing our society, where even those who have enjoyed enviable levels of social mobility don’t even realise they are removing the social mobility ladder for generations coming behind them.

It will take a brave and bold government to make the necessary changes to our current tax systems, but without the backing of the citizens of this country embracing progressive taxation and voting for such a government, the change will never happen, and we will all have to live the consequences.

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28 thoughts on “Let’s talk about tax

  1. You highlight Denmark as a good example of a small, independent country who can do social inclusion well but you insist that we are shackled to the Tory demon for the rest of all time (it would seem) rather than have all the powers to tackle poverty in our own, wealthy country. My goodness, you don’t do irony do you?

    I give it to you that YOU are part of the problem rather than the solution.

    1. Your response typifies the problem Scotland faces. Joanne McFadden tries to start a debate on progressive taxation in Scotland/UK, and your immediate response is to moan about the referendum the SNP lost.

      The reality is that if you want better public services (with or without independence) we need to pay more tax and/or grow the economy. Above all, we need to have the kind of debate Joanne is encouraging. We need to convince everyone that social justice is in their interest.

      The Scot Gov already has substantial powers and more are on the way. Why not encourage a bold agenda from the SNP, rather raking over the bones on the #indyref on this site?

  2. ” If everyone who is fortunate enough to ‘have’ is willing to share even a little with those who ‘have not’, then everyone across society gains choices and chances to make a good life for themselves and contribute to society and the economy.”

    Once again we get rhetorical simplistic mince in place of genuine attempt at solution proposal.

    For one thing how do you define “Have” relative to “Have not”? Where is the line drawn?
    Drawing that line creates a 2 tier taxation burden. It also determines the amount of taxation that can be squeezed from an already bled white by taxation society.

    Again Labour take note. The UK of GB is the highest taxed society on the planet. Nobody thats Nobody pays more in taxation that the citizens of the UK.

    The answer is not further taxation because frankly no more taxation can be squeezed out of the vast majority the answer lies in a better management of the taxation that’s already available.

    Here is a radical idea to consider. Start using the taxation to pay for public service provision and welfare instead of warmongering WMDs and propping up despotic Governments abroad.

    1. You have been corrected on this before, Mike. The UK is nowhere near the highest taxed society on the planet. That’s just a baseless lie.

      1. No I haven’t been correct on that FACT at all. I was unsuccessfully challenged on it but never corrected as the FACT remains we are the most highly taxed society on the planet which I actually proved.

  3. ” What has changed in Britain to result in a society where greed and selfishness have not just become acceptable, but are to be rewarded and admired”

    Oh perhaps its the union benefit of having endured over 40 years or right wing Neo Conservative Government ideology under consecutive Conservative Tory and Labour Tory Governments?

    Another prime example of head up arse approach to politics.

  4. “Neither the SNP at Holyrood nor the Conservatives in Westminster want to raise taxes. Neither care a jot about wealth distribution, and both see tax rises as a big vote loser. But why should it be a big vote loser, when we all agree that the level of poverty that exist in the 21st century is shameful?”

    Well how about this radical piece of insight. Perhaps just perhaps poverty is at its present level in the UK because of the present level of overall taxation burden imposed on a standard low wage earning society? And no Scottish Government can do anything to change this in Scotland as its working from a Devolved Parliament and not a fully Independent Parliament with full powers of National authority and full access to income and resources.

    When politicians miss the in your face obvious you know its time to get new politicians.

  5. “But since the 1980s ‘yuppie’ years, slowly and almost unnoticed ‘The Me Factor’ has crept up on us, taken hold of our society and changed our values. It is the ‘every man for himself’ attitude that is killing our society, where even those who have enjoyed enviable levels of social mobility don’t even realise they are removing the social mobility ladder for generations coming behind them.”

    Its a very Neo Conservative attitude this “Yuppie” phenomena. And isn’t Labour amongst those who insist Scotland remains chained to a Parliament where “Yuppies” rule unchallenged and unchecked by Scottish society?

    Did I mention head up arse approach to politics?

  6. I’m all for raising tax—on consumption not earnings.
    That is the difference between me and Labour. I want Scotland to have the ability to tax alcohol, tobacco, hydrocarbons, sugar etc.
    Labour does not. It wants us to be stuck with one crude tax on earnings ( not income), which would impact on the low paid more than the high paid.
    Its basically what differentiates self government and living in a Westminster controlled Bantustan.

    1. You’re in luck then. The Scottish Parliament has the ability to tax alcohol, tobacco etc. through local taxation.

      1. These taxes should be equal throughout the country.
        The Scottish Parliament does NOT have the power to levy these taxes, in the same manner that Westminster does.

    2. So when will the taxation burden be too much for you Gavin?

      How much more of a tax burden can you endure before you start to feel it?

      1. I happen to believe that taxes are a basic requirement for us to function as a fair society.
        My position is that if Government(in Scotland) wishes to raise funding, then it would be better to raise that money on consumption—those items that used to be called luxuries, but are now part and parcel of life. As opposed to the basic rate of tax which impacts more on the poorest paid, which is Labour’s position right now.

        1. Labour’s position right now is a pledge to reverse Osborne’s cut to the top rate of tax, and return it to 50%. Which part of that impacts on the lowest paid?

          1. Come off it, Duncan. Labour had a 50% rate for a period of WEEKS during their last tenure in government.
            I’m glad you stated Labour’s policy “right now”. Because last summer your previous Shadow Chancellor refuted the 50% rate and claimed that issue was then dead. What next?

            As for the impact on the lowest paid—-its the persistent push from Labour for the SNP to raise taxes RIGHT NOW, which would also raise taxes on the lowest paid—-its heavier burden than on the higher earner.

          2. The part where they removed the 10p rate, want to increase council tax for everybody, refuse to remove APD, want to bring back means testing for all welfare and benefits, Want to use billions of public funds on WMDs warmongering privatisation PFI PPP and not tax cuts welfare or benefits or public services.

            Hasn’t this been pointed out to you upteen times already?

  7. To properly tackle poverty you need as a minimum full control of taxation, welfare & minimum wage legislation, without these all you can do is tinker around the edges.

    Strange then that the Labour party, who claim to want to see an end to poverty deliberately blocked the Scottish Government from getting any of these powers during the Smith Commission deliberations.

    1. This bizarre blind spot again. We have all the powers. Some are vested in Holyrood, some in Westminster. Both parliaments are democratically elected. Labour stands in both in order to try to form a government in both.

      1. The problem is that thanks to Labour the powers that could do something to address the shameful inequality & desperate poverty rest in Westminster with the Tories who will never do anything to help the poor. So thanks for that

  8. As far as I can tell all this writer is saying in her article is that if everyone is daft enough to vote Labour in next year’s election then the new Labour administration will begin taxing the rich. I find this highly unlikely. Just another desperate Scottish Labour ploy to claw back a few votes. Disgusting.

    1. No she says they will tax everybody but the “Have nots” without telling us how they plan to classify the “Have nots” and who probably don’t earn enough to be taxed to begin with.

  9. How nice it is to see a fully independent country like Denmark use its own finances and resources to the betterment of its people. Now we are not an independent country but we do have a scottish bill which is supposed to give us more control of our own finances.

    Well nobody but a numpty thinks the scottish bill in its present form will allow Scotland any real change to our socity, but it could have been a lot more if the amendments proposed by our SNP Scottish government had been pasted down at Westminster.

    But sadly the tories came out of the bars in westminster during the debate to vote against every amendment (no surprise), also the libdems came out of the bars to vote against every amendment as well (no surprise) and guess what ? the labour MP’s also came out of the bars to vote against every amendment with the tory and libdem MP’s. (NO SURPRISE)

    Their may not be a quick fix or hefty lump sum to eradicate poverty, but their is proberly even less chance to eradicate poverty under a Westminster government. How different it could be under an independent scottish government, a government that could use and target its own resources to eliminate the sources of poverty.

    Scottish Labour chose Westminster and poverty before those who suffer from it.

  10. Here is predictions for the parties at the Scottish elections

    1st place SNP no tax rises on the folks of Scotland

    2nd place Tories tax cut for the rich folks of Scotland

    3rd place Scottish Labour section tax rise on poor folks of Scotland

  11. I was relaxed about the fact we had an SNP government in Scotland because I thought they were a left of centre party who, once they got over the hang ups of independence, would concentrate on social justice. The comments on here by SNP supporters have made me sit up and realise this is not the case and that they really are “Tartan Tories” after all.

    1. Sandy I have looked carefully at all the comments and cannot see any SNP supporters comments what I can see instead are some objective comments that if the Scottish Labour section branch office took onboard it may save them from a further wipeout at the 2020 Scottish elections, one of the measures I suggest would be to completely breakaway from the Labour Party UK head office and form a new Scottish Independent Labour Party made in Scotland for the folk of Scotland.

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