What’s the point of a Labour Party that won’t even back the meagre tax rises on the rich planned by a Tory government?
For the people who look to Labour, the idea that it would oppose taxing businesses to pay for a bosses’ economic crisis should be out of the question.
But that’s what Labour leader Keir Starmer and his shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds looked set to do on Wednesday of this week.
Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak was expected to raise corporation tax—a tax on profits—in his Spring budget, announced after Socialist Worker went to press.
Yet Labour spent more than a week ahead of the budget insisting they would oppose it.
Starmer insisted that “now is not the time” to raise taxes on the rich. Dodds branded it “economically illiterate”.
“It is hard to find a serious economist who believes that immediate tax rises would achieve anything other than damaging Britain’s recovery,” she said.
The economists who advised Labour’s last shadow chancellor, the left wing John McDonnell, say different. So when Dodds talks about “serious” economists she means ones who agree that society has to be run in the interests of bosses and big business.
Starmer’s supporters say calling for taxes on business is the same as demanding austerity.
Yet the difference between taxing the rich and making cuts is in who pays for the bosses’ economic crises—the rich, or ordinary people.
Labour wants to fudge the question by pretending the two are the same. But eventually it has to take a side—and Starmer is desperate to show he’s chosen the side of the bosses.
When Starmer says raising corporation tax would “choke off” recovery from an economic crisis, he means bosses would react by moving to punish ordinary people.
Rather than lose a penny of their profits, they’ll threaten to hoard their cash and stop spending.
Or they’ll make their workers pay the price of the increase by cutting jobs and pay.
For Labour, promising to manage the economy “responsibly” means not doing a thing to upset the bosses.
That’s at the core of what the Labour Party is about. It doesn’t want to take the bosses on—it wants their backing to be allowed to run a government.
Some left wing Labour MPs demanded that Starmer backs the corporation tax hike. Richard Burgon said Labour “needs to be much bolder in offering an alternative”.
But that alternative needs a plan to defy the bosses’ blackmail. It means fighting them with protests, occupations and—crucially—strikes when they come for jobs and pay.
Labour won’t do that—so we need to do it ourselves.