Tory economic incompetence will lead to suffering worse than UK under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s – Kenny MacAskill MP

The one part of Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget that I agreed with was that tax isn’t just about the revenue, but also about the economy.

But I would go further and argue it’s also about the sort of society that you seek. Sadly, his prescription is going to crash our economy and further fragment our society.

The tanking of the pound will push interest rates ever higher. Good businesses will go to the wall as costs soar through higher import charges caused by the falling pound and increased borrowing that’s necessary for many, if not most, businesses to operate.

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The higher bank interest rates will also see homeowners unable to meet their mortgage costs joined in their misery by those made redundant, as firms large and small go to the wall.

Margaret Thatcher, pictured with her election campaign bus and her husband Denis, during the 1987 general election campaign (Picture: PA)
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That economic disaster will impact on our society. Crime will increase, and many will seek to drown their sorrows in alcohol or wash them away with some narcotic. The child poverty increase will be frightening, the waste of so many lives shameful and the effects almost incalculable in the harm caused.

The pain from Thatcherism in the 1980s will seem like nothing in comparison. Then the pain was largely in declining industrial areas such as steel and coal communities and those suffering at least had a council house above their heads when the P45 came.

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Now the impact will be deeper and wider. People who never thought such a fate could befall them will experience it and the community solidarity that existed won’t be there.

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Of course, in this rush to the bottom there are those who argue that Scotland must join in. Reduce our tax, says Mr Rich or we’ll move south. Squealing like cartoon character Calimero that “it’s an injustice” and our hearts are supposed to bleed for them while, at the same time, we’re to shake in our boots at the sword of Damocles they hang above our head.

Many of them have already put their money abroad anyway, so it’s only their domicile for income tax. They’ve made use of trust funds or offshore accounts and have assets such as land and other wealth which isn’t taxed, or not as it should be. Apparently paying more income tax than south of the Border is a pain that they can’t endure. But others are to pick up the cost. The poor and the lower rate taxpayer can fund the declining public services that will follow. But what do they care as they’ve already signed up for private education or healthcare and disdain having to engage with the hoi polloi.

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There has to come a time when we call out both them and the society that Kwarteng is fuelling. It’s many years now since I read Kate Wilkinson and Richard G Pickett’s book The Spirit Level, but it will be as accurate now as it was then, with the only change being the worsening inequality in the USA and its “mini-me”, this UK.

Their research disclosed that more equal societies performed better on almost every measure. They were wealthier, healthier, happier and environmentally better. As I recall, only suicide, which had local factors, was an outlier.

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That’s why we should not only hold the line but demand the powers over other taxes on wealth and assets.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian

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