We were having a curry after the independence referendum: A, who had voted No through clenched teeth (making it hard to hold the pencil); B, who had voted No with enthusiasm; and C, who has campaigned all her adult life for independence. My companion had a chicken korma with….sorry, thought I was writing a restaurant review. Anyway –
‘Even though you lost, you’ve shown that you can change people’s minds just by talking to them.’
‘Yes. I hate the way politicians eavesdrop on swing voters in focus groups, and then say “that’s what we think too!”. It’s like having a stalker.’
‘The Labour party won’t even make the case for higher taxes.’
‘Mind you, the SNP tried that and the voters didn’t like it’.
Resigned sighs. We went home.I made the connection.
The Yes campaign, whether you liked them or not, didn’t just rely on politicians to make the case. They went out and talked to people themselves and moved their vote from 30% to 45%. Tax could be the same – no, really.
This blog aims to persuade you not just that we need higher tax, but that we should enthusiastically demand it.
In my head, I’m Martin Luther: ‘Here I stand, I can no other’. I’m Ghandi throwing his pass book on the flames. I’m Rosa Park refusing to give up her seat. In your head I’m a stone-faced man with a dusty black suit and a sandwich board, handing out smudgy leaflets. I’m the shouty person behind the street stall that you swerve to avoid. I am – this was my favourite demo of all time – a ‘Knitter for Peace’, festooned with an enormous pink scarf, growing longer before your very eyes.
By ‘tax’ I mean income tax, and by ‘us’ I mean the better off. If you lined up one hundred British people from poorest to richest, person number 50 would be earning median income. Decide for yourself where the ‘better off’ begin on that line. Here are links to people who research this sort of stuff: Paul Krugman, Chrystia Freeland and Tony Atkinson talking about inequality; Jonathan Portes; Simon Wren Lewis.