On 27 April 2008, I posted ahead of the May elections and in anticipation of the latest round of Labour Party policy making due to start on 2 May after the polls closed. I suggested:
On tax, we in the Labour Party have got some very serious work to do to restore a sense of fairness to our policy. At what level of gross income should anyone pay tax? I'd open the bidding at the level of the living wage. And you?
Then we need to be work out how fair taxes can be achieved. I'd open the bidding for a higher rate of tax for those earning silly money and shut down the scope for avoidance. But what's silly money?
So, I'm pleased to see that the ruling Labour Party has made some modest progress in that direction. The problem with detailed changes is the main message can and does get lost on the electorate. That's why we need to watch what the Tory think tanks are saying. Even the Adam Smith Institute recognises the merits of taking anyone on the minimum wage out of taxation. (Hat-tip Bob Piper.) That would be a start. I don't agree with its analysis about how to fund such tax cuts. But I am aware that HMG is light years behind getting a grip on its IT spend having failed to understand the scope for cost savings from open source software, plus the ongoing doubts with big price tags about ID cards, Trident and other non-essentials.
The trouble for the Labour Party and its members is that the powers that be banned discussion about tax-policy at its National Policy Forum in July, just when we needed a national debate about tax fairness. However, it was reassuring to see that President-elect Obama wants to clamdown on tax havens as reported shortly after his elections and that the CHX Alistair Darling in his PBR yesterday fired a warning shot across the bows of some of the UK's notorious tax havens in an opening, albeit belated, bid to reduce the scope for tax avoidance.
Who said members should be fleeced of their subs and not heard?