Sunday, 20 December 2015

Swedish Dreams

Politics disappoints. Just when you thought that the politicians had understood a good idea - for example, the idea that we would head toward a Scandinavian social model, with a tax system that captured a wee bit more from people with more, to redistribute it to those with less - you find that they have not. This week's Scottish Budget is a case in point.

Kevin Hague, in his chokka blog demonstrates the point. Mr Hague, who is not in favour of independence but is good at maths (an unusual combination), shows the effect of a one penny increase in income tax. He calculates that a person on a £14,000 salary would take home just 65 pence less per week as the result of the tax rise. Meanwhile someone on £60,000 would take home £9.50 less. That looks like redistribution, doesn't it? People with more, paying more?

Yes, the Scottish Government is hobbled by the idiotic rules that mean that they have to put a penny on everyone's tax bands. They can't do what they say they would like to do which is to increase tax for the better off and leave it as it is for people on lower incomes.

But all through the independence debate we heard the dreams of Sweden. Of building a nation based on a more Scandinavian model, where we all contribute more, and where those with more contribute a lot more.

The SNP is riding on a wave of immense political capital. It would win next May's Holyrood elections even if it were to introduce a policy of boiling poodles. And it could signal to the electorate - including its  middle class, middle income supporters (amongst whom, me) - that yes, everyone has to pay a wee bit more if we want to build the Scotland that we dream of; a fairer, finer, land where people in need, children in poor families, and older people in fuel poverty, can get the help they so desperately need. The Government could have stood up to the cynicism and selfishness of Osbameron me-me-me politics by signaling that Scotland can be independent in thought (and taxation) even if we cannot be independent in law.

But they didn't. Thus we wake, disappointed, from our Swedish dream.

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