By JP Floru.
It has nothing to do with Cameron riding horses or Osborne being the 18th Baronet of Ballintaylor and Ballylemon. Labour front men and women were and are from privileged backgrounds too: Blair was a boarder at the independent Fettes College; Harriet Harman has been called “a public school educated minor aristocrat”; Ed Balls went to public school. Even those not born into it soon developed a taste: remember Two Jags Prescott and his liking for croquet? Most Labour MPs are at least middle class. Why then the sudden clamour for heads? Is the country out of bread, like France in 1789?
Sort of. There is no growth. Because, whether antique aristocrats like it or not: it’s all about money. “Bankers”, “wealthy foreigners”, “owners of mansions”, “aristocrats”, “non-pasty-eaters”: they are all synonyms for “the rich”. Even "Londoners" or "people in the South East" are now seen as "well-off" by many. Never mind that there is a lot of cross-pollination: these are the people who have been identified by the many as the few who have too much.
“The rich” are the ones who have been identified as the class of people which can, and therefore should, pay up so we can continue spending on the NHS and welfare as if nothing happened. Because that is what we are doing: the so-called savage cuts only bring us back to spending levels which were thought totally acceptable five years ago. The national debt is not going down: its increase is being reduced.
As we are unwilling to cut taxes, there is no growth to speak of. Growth creation is traditionally what the right is about. Where the left redistributes the existing pie, the right makes it grow so there is more for all. When there is no growth and we want to keep the state’s excessive spending levels, redistribution is the only option.
And so the rich-hunting season is open with no end date in sight. Britain 2012 being slightly more mobile than France 1789, those proscribed are leaving in droves. Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Switzerland have all seen an influx of Brits. Others take their precautions, and hire tax experts to minimise their taxes. Flight and tax accounting are the reasons why the raising of the 40p tax rate to 50p raised less than a third of the £3 billion promised. The 7% stamp duty for houses over £2 million reeks of desperation: it grasps at the main asset which one can’t move out of the country. Never mind that there are simply not enough “rich” people around to make any tax grab substantial enough to make any significant difference in total tax receipts in the medium or long term.
The battle between growth and redistribution is the battle between right and left. If the centre right cannot produce growth, then it has lost its reason of existence. Only drastic tax cuts will do the job. It has been tried and has succeeded before, and will do so again: tax cuts create growth and make the pie grow for all.