June 29, 2017 by Paul Goldsmith
Jeremy Corbyn’s ability to receive rapturous applause in an echo chamber whilst saying exactly what people want to hear continues to show no sign of abatement. His appearance at Glastonbury has been much commented on. Once again we saw a man very comfortable in his own skin, quoting Shelley and receiving cheers and chants that must delight him. Since then there have been a few schools of thought around the media sphere and I thought I would have a look at them.
The first school of thought is that here we are looking at the next Prime Minister of the UK. Listen to those cheers and chants. Look at the delight on the crowds faces as he tells the many what they will be receiving from the few. Hark at the vision of a ‘kindler, gentler’ country he will create.
But then stop to consider who he was talking to. He was arguing for the ‘elite’ to be smashed in front of thousands of people who had paid £234 to just gain entrance and probably double that for rent, food and everything else that goes with a weekend at Glastonbury. In front of him was the fenced off VIP zone. This is not to rail against well off socialists. I admire their insistence on voting against their financial interests in pursuit of what they believe to be ‘right’. But I wonder how many people in that crowd understand that they are the few, that if he gets into government he’s coming for them (or their parents), and the result of that may not actually help the poorest and most vulnerable?
Look at the chart above. The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has reviewed the manifestos from the election and point out that whilst Labour’s plans will hit those in high incomes most, it’s the Lib Dems’ plans which help the poorest the most.
The Conservatives of course don’t look any better. Their embarrassment of a manifesto actually INCREASES the incomes of the richest a bit. But I’m talking about Labour’s plans here as they are after all the ‘government in waiting’.
The main issue is that they aren’t reversing some of the benefit cuts the Tories promised. The Lib Dems are. Also, whilst they are taking from the rich they are then planning to redistribute to the rich by ending tuition fees and keeping all universal pensioner and school meal entitlements. These may seem ‘progressive’ but in fact it feels like when it comes to policy, Corbyn is far more interested in his loud middle class intelligentsia base than the poorest people he claims to care most for.
Finally, a word of warning on only raising taxes for the top 5% of earners. Effectively you are relying on a small tax ‘base’ to carry on doing things that generate that tax.
The Lib Dems again came up with a penny on income tax for all taxpayers to pay for the NHS and that will raise a lot more money than any of Corbyn’s plan. It is far more difficult to avoid so will be very likely to achieve what it is aimed at.
Corbyn’s plans are not really, it seems, about that. It is about targeting the ire and almost hatred of the ‘many’ against the ‘few’. There are abuses, and there is a lack of fairness in society, but many of the top 5% of earners are those who start the businesses who employ the many. At what point are you saying to people who have worked all hours to create wealth – ‘thanks for all you’ve done, but now we’re coming for you and your property’. As Corbyn nears the possibility of Government, should he not be careful to moderate his language (and he showed his pragmatism during the election campaign) so that his ideas aren’t counter-productive?