Elec­tions are won or lost on taxes

Sunday Sun - - Comment&analysis -

Shadow chan­cel­lor John McDon­nell, above, and Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn have big ideas about how they want to change so­ci­ety TWO big is­sues that came out of the Chan­cel­lor’s Bud­get last week.

The first is that two mil­lion work­ers will get a pay rise.

More than two mil­lion work­ers will see their pay in­crease next April, as the Na­tional Liv­ing Wage jumps to £8.21 an hour.

This is the hourly rate for peo­ple aged 25 or over.

Min­i­mum wages for those aged 16-24 also will also go up, while pay for ap­pren­tices will go up by an ex­tra 20p an hour.

The sec­ond big is­sue is that many work­ing peo­ple will pay less tax.

Some­one earn­ing £12,500 a year will ben­e­fit by £130. And some­one earn­ing £50,000 will gain £860-a-year.

There’s been lots of talk about whether the bud­get ended aus­ter­ity or not.

It didn’t. Po­lice ser­vices and lo­cal coun­cils aren’t get­ting ex­tra money as a re­sult of this Bud­get.

But many work­ing peo­ple will be more in­ter­ested in the im­pact on their wal­let than ar­gu­ments about aus­ter­ity.

So will the peo­ple who de­pend on them - hus­bands, wives and other part­ners.

It’s changes to wages and tax that have a no­tice­able, di­rect af­fect on peo­ple.

This is why the Bud­get caused dif­fi­cul­ties for Labour.

No­body’s go­ing to dis­agree that the cur­rent Labour lead­er­ship moved the party to the left.

Jeremy Cor­byn and John McDon­nell, the Shadow Chan­cel­lor, have big ideas about how to change so­ci­ety. They want firms to hand over 10 per cent of their shares to a fund con­trolled by em­ploy­ees, for ex­am­ple, which in a sense gives work­ers a share in the own­er­ship of their em­ployer.

But Mr McDon­nell, in par­tic­u­lar, is se­ri­ous about win­ning power. He’s waited his whole life to put some of his ideas into prac­tice, and now he sees a chance to do so.

So he’s de­ter­mined to stop the Tories us­ing an ar­gu­ment that tra­di­tion­ally works against left­wing par­ties. This is the idea that they are go­ing to in­crease taxes in or­der to in­crease pub­lic spend­ing.

Labour does want to in­crease pub­lic spend­ing. But Mr McDon­nell has promised that he won’t put up in­come tax - at least, not for any­one earn­ing below £80,000.

The mes­sage is that it’s safe to vote Labour. Even if you’re on a pretty good salary, Labour won’t put up your taxes.

And that means he can’t re­ally op­pose the Tory tax cuts - even though these cuts ben­e­fit peo­ple who are pretty well-off.

If he says he op­poses the tax cuts then he’ll be threat­en­ing to put taxes back up once he gets into power. Or at least, that’s what it could sound like.

And he wants to make it very clear that he won’t put up your taxes, even if you earn £50,000 or £60,000 or £70,000 a year.

Labour’s shadow chan­cel­lor is a smart politi­cian. He knows that how­ever much peo­ple care about the NHS, schools or po­lice, you can’t win an elec­tion if you’re threat­en­ing to make them poorer.

It’s a les­son politi­cians in all our po­lit­i­cal par­ties should remember.

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