I have been asked if I am endorsing Jeremy Corbyn's leadership campaign by making comment on this site and in public on his tax policies. The answer is that I am not: I am not endorsing any candidate. What I am doing is saying that I am pleased that Jeremy has endorsed policy that I have created and promoted. That endorsement is reflected in the following extract from his web site:
On taxation and tax justice, Jeremy will argue:
“Under these plans outlined today Labour 2020 will make the tax system more progressive, and follow a five-point plan to tackle tax avoidance and evasion:
- Stronger anti-avoidance rules brought into UK tax law.
- The aim of country-by-country reporting for multinational corporations.
- Reform of small business taxation to tackle avoidance and evasion.
- Enforce proper regulation of companies in the UK to ensure that they pay what they owe.
- A reversal of the cuts to staff in HMRC and at Companies House, taking on more staff at both, to ensure that HMRC can collect the taxes the country so badly needs.
“The UK has shifted from taxing income and wealth to taxing consumption; and from taxing corporations to taxing individuals.
“We must ensure that those with the most, pay the most, not just in monetary terms but proportionally too."
Jeremy has explicitly acknowledged me as author of these ideas, some of which were also in the Labour Party manifesto at the last election, as well as some being (I should add) in those of other parties including, as I recall it, the Green Party and NHA Action party. It would be odd if I did not want to note the fact.
What is also odd though is the absence of comment on tax on the web sites of the other candidates.
There is no reference to tax that I can readily see on Liz Kendall's site, where the only policy commitments appear to be on unions and the living wage.
Andy Burnham's offering appears to be a commitment to reduce tax on small and growing business, and that is it.
I'd love to see them making the sorts of commitment Jeremy Corbyn is making. What surprises me is that they do not appear to want to do so. As an observer of this election that worries me. Are they really not sure what policies they would want Labour to promote under their leadership? I am sure it would help many if they made it clearer just where they stood on such issues.
Is it that they are frightened of saying something? If so, why are they in politics?
When will they realise that making an appeal that you're the best manager is not what politics is about when, after all, it is civil servants who have the job of managing and politicians who have the job of leading? They are not the same thing, at all, and instinctively people in the UK know that and will not ever be turned on by managers as a result.
Do they really think those ideas are so radical they cannot say anything about them? That would be surprising given their content.
Or is it that those ideas have cross party appeal? I would rather hope that added to their attraction: surely the left has to realise that is part of its nature now (although I am not sure anyone in Labour realises that as yet, Jeremy Corbyn included).
Im summary, I don't get it.
What I do think is that Neal Lawson may have at least part of the answer, here.
And it does really suggest that, as many are saying, there is a crisis on the left, but that it's all in that part of the left that happens only to be described as such because the centre has moved so far right.