Counterpoint by Scott Freeman You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours


I’m not a fan of clichés, in fact I try to avoid them like the plague. But one in particular seems particularly apposite this week: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

I’m talking about the announcement from the Prime Minister, no less, that his party is still hell-bent on abolishing the 50p-in-the-pound income tax rate.

Last year we were told that it should be scrapped because such was the threat to those earning £200,000-plus that they would all move abroad rather than hand over an extra 10p in the pound to help The Rest Of Us out of the current mire.

This reasoning was clearly spurious. How much would you need to be saving to make it worth your while moving overseas? Even those on a cool £1m a year would find it difficult to justify selling up the family home and moving kith and kin away from family and friends, interrupting the children’s education, rather than face a bill for an extra £75,000. After all that’s the sort of figure many such high-earners pay for the family run-around. Then the fat-cat apologists came up with another excuse for reducing their tax bills – the ‘wealth creators’ would exploit loopholes to avoid paying it. Close the loopholes I say.

Finally they came up with a wheeze to deflect all who wanted to maintain or even increase the higher rate tax – and this they saw as a knockout blow – the total tax collected would actually fall, they claimed, as 50p-in-the-pound was a disincentive to earn more cash.

This was clearly balderdash – or whatever the current phrase is (I think it also starts with a B). And this week the taxman confirmed it to be so much hogwash, reporting that it has collected hundreds of millions of extra pounds already.

Yet Dave says this measure must be axed. Why? Who exactly is going to benefit from this fiscal favouritism? Well it isn’t me and I’m guessing it’s not most of you either.

I suspect those that will benefit most are the Tories’ ‘friends in the city’ who continue to pay themselves millions and offer jobs to ex-MPs when they are belatedly removed from office.

Perhaps the phrase I was looking for is “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”.