Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale set out her party’s plans today to stop the need for government spending cuts with income tax rises.
Under her plans the Scottish Rate of Income Tax would rise by 1% across the board. This means Scotland’s income tax bands would be; 21%, 41%, and 46%. To stop ‘low earners’ being dealt a blow Ms Dugdale also announced a £100 rebate for those earning under £20,000.
As illustrated by blogger Kevin Hague this would mean the following:
The mechanism and journey behind the Scottish Rate of Income Tax is explained here by fellow blogger Graeme Cowie. It was part of the pre-Smith Commission further devolution settlement which now seems like a lifetime ago.
The problem for Scottish Labour is that more people will be directly worse off under their plans compared to the number of those that will benefit.
No political party has been successful in Scotland by asking the vast bulk of the country to pay more taxes. We may as a nation self-identify as a part of Scandinavia that somehow floated away and became attached to a neo-liberal land mass called Britain but the evidence is missing.
Indeed the Scottish Government stressed to readers in its white paper on independence that independence did not equal higher taxes (Scotland’s Future, pg.386-387). It felt the need to stress that as it knew that fighting the referendum on the basis that ‘Yes’ equals higher taxes is not an attractive pitch.
Most Scots don’t want to pay more tax. It’s just a fact of life. Those who have campaigned on doorsteps will tell you that. The fetish of enjoying paying more tax is a minority pursuit.
Indeed the SNP had to learn this lesson the hard way. In 1999 during the campaign for the inaugural Scottish Parliament the SNP launched a similar 1p income tax rise proposal. The policy was ridiculed and then quietly dropped by the time of the 2003 election. It taught the SNP though a valuable lesson. They spent the next 15 years from the ‘penny for Scotland’ campaign building an all-encompassing Scottish nationalism which is not based on class or higher taxation.
That’s why they have been in power since 2007 and why they will still be in power for many years to come.
The Scottish Labour ship was already taking in water before this policy announcement today. Their sworn enemies the SNP have destroyed the party’s electoral base with their aforementioned all-encompassing political machine. Today, its captain has turned the ship to the left and now the party is heading straight for a Tory tax torpedo. Labourites should brace for impact.
Today’s tax plans from Scottish Labour has just validated the Scottish Tories’ entire election campaign message. Now Ruth Davidson can say as a matter of fact that she is the only Unionist party leader not proposing that Scots pay a higher rate of tax than their counterparts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Let’s be frank about Scottish Labour’s position in our politics today. They are pitching to the section of the electorate that is not interested in them while actively turning many middle class unionists – their new core voter base – off them. This is an electoral kamikaze campaign with the sole purpose of just trying to dent the SNP’s progressive facade.
If there was one thing that Scottish Labour – an army already suffering mass casualties – did not need was another front. Today they have opened up this new front voluntarily. God help them, as I’m not sure they can help themselves.