by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

X / Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

Tax is an emotive topic. UK subjects have been conditioned to view taxation as a bad thing, and this message is repeated ad nauseam by UK politicians and media so often that few people even think twice about it. Oddly, many UK subjects are astonished at higher levels of living standards when they visit other European nations which have adopted a High Pay, High Tax economy. Because the UK has become a Low Pay, allegedly Low Tax economy, our public services, pensions and other benefits lag far behind the vast majority of our European neighbours.

Naturally, the UK Government uses taxation for political purposes, and it has been able to target the Scottish Government thanks to its clever ploy of allowing Scots power over Income Tax. This is the tax that most people are most aware of, so any change the Scottish Government makes leaves it open to attack.

When Income Tax was first devolved, I recall writing that if the Scottish Government reduced tax rates, they would be accused of allowing Scots to pay less tax while still relying on English beneficence paid via the subsidy England allegedly pays to Scotland. This Subsidy Myth is, of course, nonsense, but facts rarely bother the Unionists when it comes to Scotland. And, of course, if the Scottish Government raises taxes, they will be accused of turning Scotland into the highest taxed part of the UK. Which is, to nobody’s real surprise, precisely what Rishi Sunak has done, ignoring the fact that recent media analysis after Jeremy Hunt’s latest Budget pointed out that the overall tax burden on UK subjects is higher than it has ever been.

But the Tories are crowing about low taxes for everyone except those poor rich people in Scotland who will be asked to pay a little more to help fund public services. And, sadly, many will fall for this spin, completely unaware that public services in England are far worse than they are in Scotland, and that taxpayers in England pay far more in Council Tax than most Scots, as well as paying for NHS prescriptions, university education, etc. There are a lot of ways governments raise money from taxes, yet Income Tax is the big focus because that’s the one the Tories have devolved to Scotland precisely because they can use it as a political weapon.

This whole thing is a farce, but many people will fall for the rhetoric. As for the wealthier people who are asked to pay a bit more, some will object because people who already have a lot often want more, but I’d like to think that the majority of Scots would not object to paying a little more if it meant maintaining public services. Then again, Project Fear terrified many Scots in the IndyRef campaign by announcing that Scots would be £10 a week worse off if we became a normal, self-governing country, so perhaps that same fear will inflict anyone affected by a small rise in the higher rate tax bands in Scotland. As an aside, though, it is worth noting that recent financial analysis suggested that everyone in the UK is £1,500 per year worse off after Brexit and the Tories’ shambolic disaster Budget under Liz Truss. That £10 per week looks like a real bargain now, but don’t expect anyone in the media to point that out.

As ever, we come back to the fundamental point that Scotland would be far better off as a normal, self-governing country. Then our Government would have control over all taxation, not just the high-profile Income Tax. If they used those powers wisely, Scotland might have a chance of eventually developing into a High Pay, High Tax society, with everyone benefitting from all that entails. It could take several decades, but a future in which everyone could enjoy a decent pension and good levels of social security is surely something worth aiming for.