Taxing issue

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Jonathan Gordon (Letters, 14 October) has delivered a pretty comprehensive critique on the new land and buildings transaction tax that will replace stamp duty. He makes an eloquent case for a progressive tax which can help to reduce the gulf which makes the UK the most ­unequal society in the ­developed world.

Along the way, he destroys Stan Hogarth’s credo (Letters, 13 October) that “inequality is an absolutely essential ingredient to the improvement of the human race”.

But Mr Hogarth should not be too downhearted. He can take comfort from the fact that when it comes to dealing with “undeserving layabouts who refuse to work” the ­Department of Work and ­Pension will err heavily on the side of benefits sanctions.

Mr Gordon has also refuted most of the points made in Brian Monteith’s article bar one. Mr Monteith says: “It is not surprising that the SNP budget was arranged for after the referendum.” His point is that some Yes voters wishing to purchase a house might have switched sides. Putting to one side the fact that Mr Monteith always presented the case for independence through the prism of what served self best, can it be ­possible that he went through the campaign in ignorance of the existence of the Edinburgh Agreement?

Or maybe he just lost sight of it in the fog created by the announcement of a major policy initiative from the unionist side offering “extensive new powers” in the purdah period a few days before the vote.

The Electoral Commission’s take on this incident is that while the government was not bound by the act, they had agreed to abide by a ­gentleman’s agreement to ­observe the purdah period. Says it all, really.

Douglas Turner

Derby Street

Edinburgh

In referring to my letter, Jonathan Gordon in one ­instance jumps to the wrong conclusion and in another the newspaper’s right to edit may have caused him to misunderstand the tone intended.

Firstly, his general assumption that I accumulated the little wealth I have by virtue of property prices is wrong.

I have, so far, started and sold two businesses, serially, and am currently working in my third business.

Secondly, the thrust of my letter, which was partially ­diluted by the editing, was to suggest that Scottish finance secretary John Swinney will make 
many entrepreneurs run for cover to another tax regime, 
England, if he introduces punitive redistributive taxation judged on his style for land and property tax.

Many businesses can be run remotely these days.

My reference to layabouts who prefer not to work had nothing whatsoever to do with those buying property, aside from the obvious point that they’d be too idle to make the effort.

I have no sympathy for people who sit around ­complaining and criticising those who endeavour to ­improve themselves then ­expect handouts from the very people for which they have no regard.

I also disagree with Mr ­Gordon’s assertion that there should be “a fair distribution of wealth”.

Why should that be? Most of us begin at the same starting line, some get their finger out and use their grey matter, while others listen to socialists and think they are entitled to a share.

If they can’t be bothered to make the cake they don’t ­deserve a slice.

Politicians in the affluent First World cause confusion by 
designating poverty as being 
unable to buy a games console or the like.

Poor is not being able to ­afford to eat and people don’t die of
malnutrition in ­Scotland.

There is a safety net in our country and lots of charities that care for people who won’t or can’t care for themselves.

Years ago I suggested that 
benefits should be paid on a 
debit-style card which can only 
be used to buy essentials, not 
alcohol or cigarettes or other 
unnecessary items, and I’m pleased to hear that at last the 
politicians are coming to the same conclusion.

This may give impetus to some by bringing a bit of shame back into the ­equation instead of the ­current overt entitlement ­culture where, I read, the worst offenders are ­sometimes on television shows.

Remember the proverb: the devil finds work for idle hands and although I’m not in the least religious it sounds pretty apt to me.

Stan Hogarth

Palmerston Place

Edinburgh