Friday, March 27, 2009

Why Not Clobber the Rich? Says Blackburn Labour

Blackburn Labour is a blog that is becoming quite popular in Labour circles. They emailed me earlier asking if a blogpost they have published on How Labour Needs to Regain Trust could be included in today's Daley Dozen. I have just read it, but think it merits a blogpost on here all to itself. The post, written by Dr Asif Strange, contains a number of corkers. Let's start with this one...
I was heartened to hear that Labour are contemplating a new 45% tax rate for those earning over £150,000. You could argue that this is 'old' Labour - but it's what many Labour supporters wished was done earlier. Boris Johnson, London Mayor, at once stated we shouldn't clobber the rich. Why the hell not?

Er, because all the public services which the poorer members of our society rely on could not be funded. It was Lincoln who once said that you don't make the poor rich by making the rich poor. I thought the politics of envy was supposed to have disappeared with the advent of New Labour. It was Mandelson who said he had no problem with people getting filthy rich. Without rich people, there is no philanthropy. Let's move on...
I would like to have seen Labour do more to tackle the issue of debt head on. Many people are asking why the economy needs to run on borrowed money in the first place. Why can't we as a country aspire to live within our means? No interest payments, no debt and no bailiffs. Sounds like heaven, no? Why can't we balance our budgets? Surely it's better to run a VW Golf (that you own) than to borrow beyond your means for a Bentley? Especially if it's going to be repossessed!

Hear hear! This guy could be a Thatcherite in the making. The trouble is, he appears to be talking about individual debt, but doesn't make the connection that his own government is indeed borrowing beyond its means for a Bentley. He concludes...
Where mistakes have been made, let us hold our hands up, learn and move on. If it means saying sorry, we must do it. Not the Cameron way, but in the true way. This may go a long way in winning back the trust of the people.

So he agrees with David Cameron that the Prime Minister should say sorry. Sadly, the man is incapable to realising he did anything wrong.

In some ways, Dr Strange can see quite clearly what is wrong with his Party and in his heart of hearts clearly understands that it is impossible for them to win back the trust of the public, which expected so much of them in 1997. His diagnosis, though, is incoherent.


Anonymous said...

I'd entirely agree with their comments about individual debt, but the reason why the government didn't do more to tackle the problem was that it was never prepared to argue, or even suggest, that people are actually responsible for their own finances - that if you owe thousands of pounds across multiple credit cards that you ran up without any idea of how you were going to pay it off, you weren't the victim of unscrupulous banks and credit card companies, it was your fault, and it's up to you to get yourself out of it.

Of course, that approach would have required recognising the existence of personal responsibility, a concept anathema to Labour. After all, if we start encouraging the masses to think for and take care of themselves, where could that lead? Next they'll be demanding lower taxes and an end to the nanny state - unthinkable when everyone knows the non gender-specific person in Ethnically-Diversehall always knows best!

Melvin Cragsbury (a pseudonym) said...

Remember this: the top 1% of taxpayers pay 23% of all tax. The rich already are paying! This is just the politics of jealousy which pervades all Labourite thinking, new or old.

Lexander said...

You are such a kind man. This fella is completely off track.

Jim Baxter said...

If you were inclined to the conspiracy rather than the cock-up theory you might wonder if Brown won't admit to himslef that he was wrong because he knew all this would happen and wanted it to happen. When it did it would give the state the excuse to take over the banking system and a lot of people who thought they could manage without the state might have to think again. Sure, it might cost them an election but they would probably lose that anyway and think of the choices the incoming government would face.

No evidence for this view, none at all, although he did look very pleased with himself as the dominoes fell. said...

Thanks for linking, we're glad you enjoyed Asif's post.

Just to point out the obvious: contributions to a group blog don't necessarily reflect the official policy of Blackburn Labour Party.

We once said that you'd eaten our hamster, but none of us can remember voting on this in committee!

Anyway, I'm sure Asif will respond to this over the weekend.

Alan Douglas said...

"Dr Asif Strange"

or should that be

Dr "As If Strange", and you are having your plonker pulled ?

Alan Douglas

Sentient WV : And now we hansubac to the studio.

Eckersalld said...

I'm amused they think a return to traditional Labour values would work, I mean it's not as if that wasn't tried in the 80's - much to the delight of the Tories.

But then Blackburn Labour might want to spend a bit more time on their local issues. Having worked in Blackburn, it's one of those towns with oodles of potential that never seems to get fulfilled.

Alan Douglas said...

Dear, Dear Iain,

Covered in contusion, I am - the name of the man who wrote the article is SANGE, no T and R to be seen.

Leaves my previous post so of dangling ....

Alan Douglas

Fishy WV : hering

javelin said...

Personal debt, business debt and Government debt are the very similar. In one respect they represent the cost of a present financial shortfall. Whether you accept it or not debt represents an investment of one sort or another. Debt also carries risks over and above costs.

If Government borrowing provided a good return on investment then we would welcome increased spending. The investment by Government is simply the
crisis management of previous regulatory errors in managing personal, business and Government borrowing.

There is a delicious irony that the blind sightedness they showed toward poor debt regulation is being repeated so directly in their containment of it's consequences.

javelin said...

Who cares. It's all down to the suns temperature. This whole thing is a kind of reverse arogance from 100 years ago when science thought we'd mastered nature. Except this time it's guilt and not arrogance.

As far as I can tell the biggest problem facing the plant is humans breeding like rabbits and using all the rescources up. Inflation will consume us all unless it is stopped by the bigger evil of war.

The second biggest problem is politically correct politicians not doing anything about it. Large populations are no longer investments but debts.

Conand said...

Not very Dear Blackburn Labour,

'Why can't we AS A COUNTRY aspire to live within our means?'

This is exactly what David Cameron has quite correctly been saying. If you're going to copy at least understand the sense of what you are copying, 'as a country' includes, as Iain says, government debt.

'If it means saying sorry, we must do it. Not the Cameron way, but in the true way.'

I love 'in the true way' it is seriously sinister in a 1984/Goebbels way. Cameron apologized for not drawing more attention to corporate debt. He did focus on private & government debt. What did the Do Nothing Government worry about? Nothing. If any opposition politician raised the issue of any kind of debt they were told they were 'talking down the economy' etc etc.

'Where mistakes have been made, let us hold our hands up'

Your blogpost proves you are absolutely incapable of doing that.

Lola said...

You sure the by-line wasn't Dr Strange(love)?

DespairingLiberal said...

A great deal of research in the US and elsewhere has shown that rich people are not generally philanthropic. A small number of very well known ones are. The majority are not.

Instead, a class of super-rich distorts the economy by moving the focus of production to luxury goods and they distort the political process by causing and controlling governments to obsess over lower tax rates for the wealthy, which are not in the interests of the majority.

Anonymous said...

'a class of super rich distort the economy by moving the focus of production to luxury goods' ???

Priceless ... ha ha ha ! priceless.

Yes lets keep to the stuff produced by sweatshops in China and India.

But I want to mention Brown in Chile - looks like he has been embarrassed again by another President.

But this Times article

also has a readers comment where it is claimed the smoking laws will be suspended form the day of the G20.

Is not this just despicable pathetic and hypocritical.
Could anybody vote from a govt that did that?

Lola said...

DL - same old same old envy nonsense. York Minster is a luxury good. It used hundreds of craftsmen. So does a luxury yacht. A local comany in my town builds some of the most wonderful wooden hulled yachts I have ver seen. Way out of my price range, but the bloks that make them love the fact that they can demonstrate unbelievable skill, funded by a rich man.

I race against other rich men who keep alive and racing some of the most wonderful of historic cars by employing very skilled craftsmen.

Better that they all work on 'luxury goods' than wait on state handouts raised by taxing their employers into penury.

I have never yet met a plumber who wants only poor people for customers. The richer the customer, the better.

Old BE said...

So is that how one gets into your Dozen? I assumed you were there reading all the blogs and deciding on the best ones!

Next time I do a vaguely mediocre post I shall email it in.

DespairingLiberal said...

Lola - just what we all need. More luxury yachts.

While approx. 150,000 families are sleeping in bedsits. The roads are hopelessly congested and trains sub-standard. Roads full of potholes. Shortages of nurses and plumbers.

Your priorities are obviously right!

Unknown said...

Labour's attitude to high earners is what pisses me off the most.

They just openly ignore the fact that the high earners are the one's running the business's that provide their jobs, and that generate the most cash for the economy.

If we don't look after them, or worse, target them like Labour want to, they'll just bugger off elsewhere and it's the people who will suffer the most for it.

After all, it's the high earners who are the most mobile.

Labour and it's supporters are pretty stupid.

Eckersalld said...


Most of your bugbears have their source in the state, not the rich.

I fail to see how placing more cash and power in the state would act as a solution.

Eckersalld said...

Every politician should have a few truths drilled into them:

1) Wealth tends to generate more wealth
2) Wealth tends to generates jobs
3) The state absorbs wealth
4) Complex tax system and high rates of taxation drives wealth elsewhere
5) The state follows Parkinson's Law

DiscoveredJoys said...

First of all they taxed the very rich,
but the very rich all left, and the tax fell.
Then they taxed the people with two homes,
but the people with two homes sold them and left, and the tax fell.
Then they taxed the people with two cars,
but the people with two cars sold them and left, and the tax fell.
Then they taxed people with two pairs of shoes,
but the people with two pairs of shoes walked away, and the tax fell.
Now we all have bare feet.

DespairingLiberal said...

You are right Obsidian - it should obviosuly be placed with bankers and hedge funders.

Roger Thornhill said...

'Why can't we AS A COUNTRY aspire to live within our means?'

Translation: Your disposable income will be reduced but, fear not!, the shelves will be empty.

Under Socialism, the limited aspiration will become compulsory. Right now they are trying to coerce people via the (dis)Education System, but that is not working fast enough.

Eckersalld said...


If that is the peoples choice, then yes. Do you have an issue with people freely making choices?

Dr Asif Sange said...

Let me firstly thank you for linking my article, and for generating such a lively discussion.
I have to start in my response by coming up with an anagram-a real one-of your name. How do you like the following:
I have Scottish connections and feel I have to translate to my Tory colleagues who have become extinct north of the border. In Glasgow that means "no ideal."
Now let me get to business. Your assertion that a 45% tax rate for those earning over £150,000 will somehow end up with less money for services I find baffling. I am making the point that income tax rates should be fairer. If you are earning £150,000 you should not be paying the same proportion of tax as someone earning £34,600.01-the threshold for the 40% rate. Furthermore the super rich should not be allowed to pay minimal tax as with the status of non doms. My point is that the system be fairer.
In terms of debt I was putting forward the idea of ridding ourself of the insatiable desire to constantly be in debt. Whether that debt be personal or national. Why can't we all live within our means? It's a question to debate as all governments have had the urge to keep borrowing.
Finally on the issue of trust. I don't think any government can ever scale the heights of sleaze and self-interest that was demonstrated by Neil Hamilton, Jonathan Aitken (of simple sword of truth fame), David Mellor etc and more recently Derek Conway. I have said that politicians of all persuasion should learn to say sorry where mistakes have been made. I am still awaiting an honest apology from the Tories for the years of betrayal and hurt that many endured. Cameron, when he 'apologised' was seeking to induce an admission from Brown. An ulterior motive goes against truly being sorry. My point is lets treat the public with a bit more respect.
My article talked about Iraq, but here too the Tories made themselves irrelevant by not taking a principled stand, when they had an opportunity to do so.
Dr Asif Sange

DespairingLiberal said...

Of course Obsidian - obviously the public would choose bankers and hedge funders as the logical recipients of the nations's cash!

Quite interesting around here - kind of like being in a museum of old views, where the world has moved on. I feel like an anthropologist, studying strange old British Tory right wingers who are the last people on earth still trying to justify lower taxes for the rich, tax havens, etc.

Jim Baxter said...

Re Dr Asif,

Somebody please enlightnen me on this: doesn't most of the evidence suggest that a relatively low rate of higher taxation generates more revenue than a higher rate of higher taxation? Or have I just bought a lot of capitalist propaganda, gullible eejit that I am? If I haven't then the good doctor's view, (he's a Doctor you know, anybody else notice?) true socialist that he is, is that's we don't care if we lose money as long as nobody has too much of it. If the rich don't have too much too splash about then they won't be able to demean less well-off folk by employing them and we can all be broke together. I know, it's old, old stuff, old arguments that we should all be familiar with. You might think then that we wouldn't have to keep hearing them.

Eckersalld said...


I certainly hope you're not filing me under any Tory banner. For a 'liberal' perhaps you should refresh yourself on classic liberalism?

As for who the people would choose to look after their cash, I have neither the arrogance nor the presumption to choose for them. I also don't see it as an either/or proposition as you apparently do, it must joyous to live in such a strongly delineated reality, devoid of subtext and shades.

Mulligan said...

As ever it won't be the rich that would be clobbered, for they all have accountants and will simply adjust their tax affairs to legally mitigate higher levels, i.e. tax take = REDUCED.

But this simple fact escapes the stupid class warriors, and as ever it will be the lower to middle earners who would lose out.

Eckersalld said...

@Dr Asif

I think you find the core of the issue is what you define as 'fair'

You think subsidizing the less well-off as fair, by taking a larger chunk of their earnings off them, is fair. Others do not.

Now, objectively speaking, the only true 'fair' method of associating service-use with payment is a Pay As You Go system combined with insurance. So lets discard 'fair' as its a strawman for all sides.

What you want to do is subsidize the less well-off by taking more from the better-off. That's the argument you have to justify.

Now speaking as someone who used education and opportunity to go from a council estate background, to having recently hit the 40% rate, and who still lives in what gets called a 'deprived area' you're going to have a hell of a time selling that to me.

Labour's policies are all over the place when it comes to less well-off.

You think by forcing their kids to stay in education 'til 18 will improve their lot - the adage about leading a horse to water apparently going over your heads - rather than let them leave at 14 for apprenticeships, where they can learn on a job and not be disrupting classrooms.

I know people who get more in benefits than I do in post-tax earnings, and that is so many shades of wrong, what a message of hope that sends out!

Of course I also know people who can barely survive of the benefits they have, that's because they don't know how to play the system.

I have rarely seen such anger, as people who have paid into the state all their lives are left hanging, whilst those who've done nothing but take live life on the lam.

Shakassoc said...

Dr Asif

If there were a flat tax rate of 20 percent, and an allowance of £10,000, a person earning £20,000 would pay 20 percent of £10,000: that's £2,000.

A person earning £50,000 would pay 20 percent of £40,000: that's £8,000.

A person earning £150,000 would pay 20 percent of £140,000: that's £28,000.

So the 'rich' person would be paying 14 times as much as the 'poor' person. Get it? Even though he is on THE SAME TAX RATE AND ALLOWANCE, he is still making a contribution 14 times as much as the relatively low-paid taxpayer.

Why isn't that good enough for you? Demanding an even greater level of contribution looks like envy and spite to me.

Bishop Brennan said...

If only they had bought a Bentley with the high taxes they already raise - public services are still of a Trabant level... (the NHS is based on the Soviet model, education is very 1984ish, etc....)