Many of the kind of policies that saw former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused of not just profligacy but, apparently economic, insanity have been done. But still there’s financial challenges, and taxes’ll have to rise. It’s who is to bear them that’s in dispute, not whether we need to have them.
The proposal currently being floated by the Tories is to increase National Insurance contributions (NIC). But why? It’s a tax on jobs. It’s not me that usually says that or others on the Left, it’s more often from the supposed party of business. But their current plans would load the cost of meeting social care in England on it.
Now, I’m not opposed to NIC but it’s not as progressive as income tax and it’s paid from work, not unearned income.
The plan was also loudly condemned by Baron MacPherson, formerly of Her Majesty’s Treasury though now ensconced as a Scottish government economic adviser.
Now I’ve met the Baron and he’s pleasant enough and obviously highly capable. Whether that makes him appropriate for Scotland's needs, I’m not convinced and the optics for the Scottish government are awful. They might as well convene under a portrait of the Duke of Cumberland for good measure.
But that aside, funds are needed but they shouldn’t come from earned but unearned wealth. It’s offshore assets and other income here that isn’t earned that needs taxed. That and getting big corporations to pay their whack.
Whilst many have suffered financially not just in health from coronavirus, a few have benefited substantially. Money begets money after all and yet again the rich have got richer and the poor have paid the price.
So, this time it shouldn’t be workers who foot the bill. They’ve been bearing the cost of the pandemic in reduced earnings and increased dangers. It’s not increasing NIC or even income tax that needs to rise. Its widening the tax net so those that have money actually pay what they’re rightfully due.
Kenny MacAskill is the Alba Party MP for East Lothian