New Internationalist

How dare they cut the 50p tax rate?

An Old Etonian Chancellor and an Old Etonian Prime Minister fly in the face of national outrage over bankers’ bonuses and the rich-poor divide by cutting the 50p income tax rate for those earning over £150,000. How the hell have they got the gall?

The greed and idiocy of financial speculators – together with politicians all too ready to cosy up to them – brought the whole system to the brink of collapse only for taxpayers’ money to rescue them from their own irresponsibility. The bill for that is now being paid by ordinary people up and down the country who are losing their jobs or seeing their pay packets frozen or cut, who are deeply worried about the prospects for their children in years of spiralling unemployment.

Yet George Osborne’s strategic response is to cut the tax rate for people who earn so much that they won’t even notice the difference – and to pay for it by cutting tax allowances for pensioners and, according to the Office of Budget Responsibility, by finding an extra but as yet unspecified further £10 billion cuts in welfare spending.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how the poor have to be paid less in order to encourage them to work, while the rich supposedly need the rest of us to give them 5p in the pound more in order that they condescend to grace this country with their presence.

Let’s make this and the passing of the ‘NHS Privatization By Stealth Bill’ the poll tax moment for this government of millionaires. Let’s see an opposition brave and coherent enough to stand up for the idea that the health of a society is measured by how it treats its weakest members. And let’s watch these two Old Etonian class warriors crawl back under their stone.

Chris Brazier is a New Internationalist co-editor.

 Illustration: Byzantine K under a CC Licence

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  1. #1 Peter Hardy 22 Mar 12

    I thought Osborne went to St. Paul's rather than Eton?

  2. #2 Chris Brazier 22 Mar 12

    Well, there you go. I guess that's what comes of dashing off a blog in outrage rather than writing a considered piece of journalism. But there's very little difference between Eton and St Paul's. He's the millionaire son of a baronet. The outrage and incredulity still stand.

  3. #3 Rudi Affolter 22 Mar 12

    Time to introduce a 100% tax rate on all income above, say, £30,000 a year. With no get outs or dodges.

  4. #4 Don Whitehead 22 Mar 12

    They believe they have the right! The welfare state has created a situation where those who have worked hard and got rich, or have chosen wisely to be born in right bed; are penalized because they are subject to the same laws, and the NHS monopoly of medical staff means they have to wait in the queue behind some dying dustman or suchlike. When the working class are passed working, they should be scrapped like any other worn out equipment.

  5. #5 tosspotovich 23 Mar 12

    Assuming the Australian system is basically the same, our top marginal rate is 45 cents in the dollar which leads to a 200k earner paying about 8 times as much income tax as someone on 50k. Dropping the marginal rate by 5 cents would make an insignificant difference to that ratio, but more importantly high income earners have many loopholes available to reduce their taxable income.
    If you feel they are not pulling their weight then first look at changes which will have significant impact and then compare what they are actually contributing. Do the sums, you might be surprised.

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About the author

Chris Brazier a New Internationalist contributor

Once a writer for the rock music weekly Melody Maker (1977-80), Chris Brazier has been a co-editor of New Internationalist magazine since 1984. He has covered myriad subjects from masculinity to maternal mortality, Panafricanism to the paranormal, and has edited country issues on South Africa, Burkina Faso, Western Sahara, Bangladesh, Iran, China and Vietnam. He edits the country profile section of the magazine as well as its puzzle page. Since 2010 he has focused primarily on commissioning and editing New Internationalist’s books and other publications. He has also written regularly for UNICEF’s annual The State of the World’s Children report since 1997.

Chris is the author of Vietnam: The Price of Peace (Oxfam, 1992), The No-Nonsense Guide to World History (2001, 2006 & 2010) and Trigger Issues: Football (2007). He also compiled the New Internationalist anthologies Raging Against the Machine (2003) and Brief Histories of Almost Anything (2008).

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