Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Chancer Chancellor

So, Gordon Brown has promised to cut the basic rate of income tax by 2 pence in the pound. He claims this is to reward hard-working families. Why, in that case, has he simultaneously abolished the 10 pence starting rate of income tax - the measure HE introduced in 1999?

A cynical person might suggest the following:

Gordon Brown is competing with David Cameron for the votes of Middle England. Middle England likes cuts in income tax. If Gordon Brown cuts income tax, then he hopes Middle England will like him and give him a shot as PM. And the 'best bit' is, it won't cost the Treasury a penny because he is offsetting the cost with measures like abolishing the 10 pence starting rate.

So, this is largely a case of moving money around, in a desperate attempt to net votes. It's self-interest.

More worrying is the impact of the abolition of the 10 pence starting rate, which was initially introduced to make the system of income tax more progressive. This move is not good news for people on low incomes, who will pay a higher rate of tax on more of their pay packet.

Gordon Brown also beams with delight when he announces more investment to tackle child poverty. But this is his 11th Budget! As Chancellor, he has presided over disgraceful levels of child poverty. One quarter of children in Scotland are growing up in poverty. Just how many more Budgets do they have to wait for until it is their turn to be 'lifted' out of poverty?

I for one don't want to wait for another London-based Chancellor to do what is best for Scotland, and all our citizens. That's why I want us to control our own affairs as soon as possible - so we can tackle the causes of poverty, not just alleviate the symptoms. One in four of Scotland's children certainly can't wait. It's definitely time for independence.

No comments: