Socialist Worker

Why not make the rich pay?

Issue No. 1701

What we think

Why not make the rich pay?

THE GOVERNMENT responded with derision to a sensible and modest proposal from the public sector workers' UNISON union this week. The union called for income tax to be raised to 50 percent on earnings over 100,000 a year. New Labour would not even consider it. Why not?

Less than 0.5 percent of the population get 2,000 a week. Their votes do not determine elections and they solidly back the Tories. This rich elite paid more than 50 percent income tax under Margaret Thatcher. The top rate of income tax between 1979 and 1988 was 63 percent. It is now just 40 percent.

Putting it back to the 1980s level would raise an extra 7 billion every year. That is money that could be ploughed into essential services and pensions. New Labour is so besotted with the fat cats that it will not implement even UNISON's proposal, let alone make them pay Thatcher levels of tax or higher. Social security secretary Alistair Darling this week set his face against redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor. He said, "The idea that you can help people simply by increasing their benefits a little isn't right."

What the hell does a pampered cabinet minister on 84,000 a year know about the difference any extra money makes if you are on Jobseeker's Allowance? New Labour's message could not be clearer. The poor do not deserve even "a little bit more". The rich, however, have every right to grab what they can whatever the cost to society. Is it any wonder that many of Labour's traditional voters are disgusted by the government's performance?

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Sat 17 Jun 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1701
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