What’s put paid to the SNP’s tax idea?

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Dr Francis Roberts (Letters, 6 October) comments on Hugh Kerr’s letter (4 October). A main thread is that the poll tax was unfair and therefore those who did not pay were by implication justified – or at least, exonerating them is justified.

Dr Roberts does not refer to another of Mr Kerr’s points. The council tax, he says, “is fundamentally a flawed tax reliant on property values and not income”.

I agree but whether that would justify me in not paying it is another matter.

Mr Kerr also says that replacing the council tax with a tax based on income is a principle to which the SNP “is committed”.

Well, it certainly was, but its agility in performing 
U-turns is such that it is difficult to keep track of its current thinking.

In one respect the poll tax was fair in that it was a tax on individuals and it is individuals who use services.

The SNP’s local income tax would share that feature of the poll tax. But it would not share the fundamental flaw of the poll tax since, being based on income, it would take into account the ability to pay.

Is the SNP still “committed to the principle” of a local 
income tax?

Or is it more concerned that it may prove unpopular and therefore won’t let a mere matter of principle get in the way of the real business of soliciting votes?


Braid Hills Avenue


I paid my poll tax as I paid all my other bills.

Now Alex Salmond is cancelling the debt of all those who did not pay.

He is always talking about a fair society. So will he be fair to me and all the others who did pay and return the poll tax money we paid?

After all, those who did not pay continued to receive all the services subsidised by those who did, while at the same time enjoying the extra money they had that I did not.

Elizabeth Hands

Etna Court

Armadale, West Lothian

In branding the community charge as an “iniquitous tax” Douglas Turner (Letters, 6 October) nails his colours on the subject firmly to the mast as being on the side of the noisy minority who appealed to people’s baser instincts by encouraging non-payment of a legitimate charge for local authority services back at a time when the scope of those services was expanding massively.

The so-called poll tax was brought in by the properly elected government as a much fairer way of spreading those increasing costs over most users of the services, rather than landing the whole cost on householders only.

However, like most norms in a democracy it depended on the acceptance of the law-abiding citizens for it to work effectively, and it is to the eternal shame of the Labour Party opposition that at that time it was so bereft of ideas and alternative policies that it regularly resorted to encouraging law-breaking as about its only means of opposing the policies of the Thatcher Government.

(Of course the voters extracted a high price for those law-breaking Old Labour years because it was not until the Tony Blair era that Labour was trusted back into power.)

Of course the poll tax had to be dropped when the campaign encouraging people not to pay gathered large scale support.

But whether that was one of democracy’s finest hours, or the result of a rabble at work, is something we should all ponder deeply.

Irvine Inglis