Jeremy Corbyn has navigated through another tumultuous few weeks, fending off the usual unsubstantiated accusations about him and his supporters. Plus a plethora of dirty tricks from the evil twins of the National Executive Committee and the Parliamentary Labour Party, in an attempt to subvert democracy. Meanwhile Owen Smith the Labour leadership rival, over this period has trawled the UK’s ice cream hot-spots trying to convince anyone who would listen to him how radical he is by adopting many of his opponents ideas. Smith has largely sounded muddled and inconsistent during many of the debates. This incoherence is primarily due to him adopting a political stance on the left that is unfamiliar. Among all this mayhem Mr Corbyn has responded to his detractor’s cries of ambiguity regarding his proposed rejuvenation of society and presented a plan in the form of a 10 point vision. This much needed and ambitious goal is set to transform the UK from an ailing, highly unequal country to a more compassionate society, where nobody gets left behind.
Corbyn’s 10 pledges
- Full employment and an economy that works for all: based around a £500bn public investment via the planned national investment bank.
- A secure homes guarantee: building 1m new homes in five years, at least half of them council homes. Also rent controls and secure tenancies.
- Security at work: includes stronger employment rights, an end to zero hours contracts and mandatory collective bargaining for companies with 250 or more employees.
- Securing NHS and social care: end health service privatisation and bring services into a “secure, publicly-provided NHS”.
- A national education service: featuring universal public childcare, the “progressive restoration” of free education, and quality apprenticeships.
- Action to secure our environment: includes keeping to Paris climate agreement, and moving to a “low-carbon economy” and green industries, in part via national investment bank.
- Put the public back into our economy and services: such as re-nationalising railways and bringing private bus, leisure and sports facilities back into local government control.
- Cut income and wealth inequality: make a progressive tax system so highest earners are “fairly taxed”, shrink the gap between the highest and lowest paid.
- Action to secure an equal society: including action to combat violence against women, as well as discrimination based on race, sexuality or disability, and defend the Human Rights Act.
- Peace and justice at the heart of foreign policy: aims to put conflict resolution and human rights “at the heart of foreign policy”.
To any Socialist, these are just common sense ideas, they prioritise developing a society as a whole, rather than swelling the ruling elite’s tax avoiding bank balance that’s hidden in places such as Bermuda. On the flip-side, right wingers will be treating this benign list with hostility, disdain and as a virtual deceleration of an ideological war. The neoliberals will interpret this as preposterous, unacceptable, government meddling and it may cause rich, middle aged men sat in their supposed places of importance such as ‘The Carlton Club‘ to choke on their brandy. So comrades, the first thing you may well be asked by any self-respecting neoliberal (if there is such a species) from either a blue or red persuasion is; how does Jeremy Corbyn pay for all this? To appreciate the answer to this question, opponents will have to put their right-wing ideology aside for one moment and try to think holistically. They will first need to discover that they are not the only people in world that matter, while understanding at the same time contrary to what Thatcher declared, society really does exist. This no doubt will be a bridge too far for the most entrenched of Conservatives. However, for the vast majority of people these ideas may appear wonderful in theory, but unattainable in practice. This is partly because we have had years of the Conservatives and more broadly neoliberals in the form of ‘New Labour’ setting the economic terms of debate. Disastrous policies such as austerity, which largely consisted of; being soft on taxes for the rich, cutting back on public services, paying subsidies for private contractors and stagnating wage increases for the peasants. This has not only failed to reduce the country’s debt, but it has increased the debt from roughly 65% of GDP in October 2010 to approximately 85% of GDP as measured in January 2016.
One controversial economic proposal that has been suggested from the Corbyn camp is peoples quantitative easing (PQE), this is described as a new national investment bank. The general premise is, rather than printing money to bail out the banks, PQE would be used to boost spending on infrastructure and public spending. It is surmised that this cash injection via PQE, would boost inflation, which would have the effect of reducing the real burden of our accumulated debt. It is thought that this idea could work but it would have to be used sensibly and needs to be carefully managed.
With the potential problems of PQE in mind, lets see if we can uncover money in a safer way. I have 4 more simple suggestions.
Non-renewal of Trident
I am aware that this has recently been voted through the house, however, it is the most ridiculous waste of money I can think of. This £205bn relic of the cold war just makes no sense. It works on the logic that the Prime Minister has to be prepared to launch a catastrophic retaliatory strike on a sovereign nation that has already launched its missiles towards the UK. So we solve the imminent deaths of 100,000’s to millions of our own people with the outright slaughter of 100,000’s to millions of other innocent people in a foreign land. Great idea! Hey, I’ve got a radical idea how about we use diplomacy, while not destroying people’s homes in far away places. This philosophy of diplomacy works very nicely with Jeremy’s points 9 & 10. Simple, maximum amount saved £205bn.
Richard Murphy published a report regarding the amount of revenue lost due to tax avoidance, evasion and late payments. It is estimated that £119.4bn was lost over 2013/14, a similar figure was reported in 2010. Murphy breaks down lost revenue into three categories;
Tax debt non-collection – tax that is not paid by a person or a company who knows that they owe it, but who doesn’t pay, or delays payment.
Tax avoidance – tax that is lost when a person claims to arranges their affairs to minimise tax within the law in the UK, or in other countries.
Tax evasion – tax lost when a person or company deliberately and unlawfully fails to declare income that they know is taxable or claims expenses that are not allowed.
The main area of tax revenue loss was through evasion, £82.1bn failed to reach the system through these varying methods;
- Tax evasion in the shadow economy. The shadow economy represents economic activities that are not recorded or declared to avoid government regulation or taxation.
- Tax lost as a result of other criminal or fraudulent activity in the UK economy.
- Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax and offshore tax evasion.
- Tax evasion on investment and rental income.
In the document Murphy outlines a number of ways to combat tax evasion and avoidance. The two obvious ones would be; to introduce an anti-avoidance rule in to UK tax law, and secondly an introduction of country by country reporting by multinational corporations. These types of strategies are heavily dependent on the government committing to a crack down on tax evasion and avoidance, rather than paying lip service to it. Sadly the lines between corporate and state interests are becoming increasingly more difficult to distinguish. Lobbying groups are ever more persuasive on behalf of their corporate clients, while employees move freely between the two sectors.
However, the fact remains that there is a large chunk of change out there, that could make a huge difference in the public sphere. I believe a Corbyn government would make it their duty to seize as much of this lost revenue, which would go a long way to rejuvenating the nation. Maximum amount saved – £120bn per year
Robin Hood Tax or the Financial Transactions Tax (FTT)
A Financial Transaction Tax is my third suggestion in an effort to obtain funds for Jeremy’s 10 point plan. This proposed tax is a tiny percentage 0.05% that would be placed on financial transactions such as; stocks, bonds, foreign currency and derivatives. These taxes are easy to implement and difficult to avoid, they have also been well tested in other countries. It has been estimated that a tax of this nature could raise up to £250bn globally per year, £20bn in the UK alone. The tax would be imposed at the riskier end of financial services, which would make absolute moral sense. The financial crash in 2008 was largely due to bankers gambling with other people’s money, so it should be their turn to pay back in to society. It is the most profitable industry on earth, yet it caused pain and misery for millions. It’s time they helped clean up this mess. Total savings £20bn per year.
Raising Income Tax top rate to 50%
This usually initiates groans from many people, however, we need to explain to the populace that this top rate would only be paid on anything earned above the £150,000 a year threshold. As you could imagine this doesn’t affect the majority of workers in any way. It it estimated that 300,000 people would be subjected to this rate of tax, which could if collected properly raise up to £6bn per year. Now, this proposal would receive lots of criticism from the right, who will state that it would initiate some form of mass exodus from the business community. The reality is, under Thatcher for the first 9 years the top tax rate was 60%. The hyperbole that would be heard from the neoliberal MP’s, the media billionaires and the rest of the ruling elite, would be borne out of nothing but greed, self-interest and narcissism. Total savings £6bn per year.
So, looking at the scores on the doors using these 4 ideas, we could raise £146bn per year, plus the £205bn Trident would cost over its lifetime. This is a good start towards that £500bn, which I’m sure isn’t intended to be raised in one year. What also needs to be taken into account is the huge sums of money that have been wasted paying subsidies for the failed privatisation of education, health, railways and benefits. Nationalising these services would save money, rather than financialising every aspect of government expenditure all to benefit the few. People want responsible government who care about everybody in the nation. Leadership that acts as the buffer between corporations and the masses. Not a government who exploit the public; whether that’s in the workplace with zero hour contracts, using our taxes to bail out failed corporate ventures or forcing our unemployed to work for free with the threat of loss of benefits constantly looming. This government passes all its draconian policies by instigating fear in our minds. From supposed terrorists on every street corner to immigrants taking our jobs and lazy benefit scroungers tanking the economy. There’s always another target to focus on except the real perpetrators. The masses need to recognise the enemy before we can all fight them effectively.