by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Once again, the Tories and their media allies are using the tax trap to point a finger at the Scottish Government. The argument they are putting forward is that the UK Chancellor’s cutting of higher rate tax puts pressure on the Scottish Government to match it or face a loss of income because of all the Scottish millionaires who will flee to England to avoid our punitive rates of tax. Some media outlets have even gone so far as to track down wealthy people who claim they are considering moving to England. However, what none of these stories ever mention is the collapse in the value of the pound as a result of the UK Chancellor’s ideologically-driven tax cuts. What the British media in Scotland are hoping is that nobody will notice the looming disaster and will instead focus on the dastardly Scottish Government who are unwilling to adopt the same demonstrably disastrous tax cuts. It really is a superb bit of journalism because the Scottish Government could be attacked for adopting harmful policies if it does copy the Westminster model. In other words, the media will attack them whatever they do.

But why do they focus on the tax cuts when the arguments against it are so evident? Quite apart from the fact that the British media in Scotland is always desperate to find any angle which can be used to criticise the Scottish Government, another reason they do this is because they know it works on some people who are fully indoctrinated in the UK system. I have a relative who has already complained to me about living in the UK’s highest tax area. He’s certainly not a millionaire, but compared to many he’s pretty well off with a nice house and car, and is able to support his family. Obviously, with the current cost of living crisis, he is affected as all of us are, but he’s not on the poverty line by any means. However, he is very unhappy at paying more tax than people who live in England.

When I pointed out that there are other benefits to living in Scotland, he was very dismissive. He has no need of medical prescriptions except on a rare occasion of illness, so he does not regard that as important. It is, after all, the sort of benefit which is aimed at scroungers.

As for free university education, his kids aren’t old enough to go to university yet, so that hasn’t even crossed his mind, and he simply shrugged it off when I mentioned it.

When I then pointed out that he could move to England but would find that house prices would more than wipe out any tax benefit, that his Council Tax would be much higher and that the public services he takes for granted would be of much lower standard, he was not convinced. After all, he has no plans to move to England, so none of those things will affect him. His only concern is that he will be paying more tax than English residents. He will not be paying more tax than he is at the moment, of course, but that is not the point. His comparison is with other people who he perceives as being better off than he is thanks to the Scottish Government’s apparently punitive tax rates.

This is a very weird sort of logic, but I was unable to convince him that paying taxes to help other members of society might actually be viewed as a good thing by many. Sadly, Tory ideology is so ingrained in his thinking that his only concern is with himself and how unfairly he is being treated.

Naturally, we must still try to persuade people that the tax trap argument is deeply flawed because of its focus on a single aspect of taxation, but I think we should always bear in mind that some people will never be convinced. That is why the UK media in Scotland is pushing this line of argument. They are providing comfort for those who seek any justification for sticking to their Tory values.

As far as I am concerned, the media, notably including the BBC, is not providing news, it is promoting Tory propaganda. They are going out of their way to push this story despite the very obvious economic calamity the Tories are inflicting on the UK. The sooner we escape the madness, become a normal country and establish a normal media, the better.