So, the latest scare story is that Scotland will see a mass exodus of rich people under a local income tax.
Does this ring any bells?
Before the New Labour victory in 1997, high profile high earners lined up to claim they would leave the UK if voters chose to kick out the Tories and elect Tony Blair's lot.
Before devolution, again stories appeared in the media arguing that businesses and individuals would flee Scotland at the prospect of us taking greater control over our own affairs. I remember, living in the Borders at the time, all the talk of Berwick-upon-Tweed becoming a haven for people who wanted to continue working in Scotland (primarily Edinburgh), but wanted to live in England to escape the 'dire consequences' of giving a Scottish Parliament control over services like the NHS and universities. It is somewhat ironic that a significant number of people of that town now want to be part of Scotland, for the opposite reasons!
An SNP victory, it was also suggested, would see people leaving Scotland to seek sanctuary over the border. Remember that noose emblazoned across one tabloid newspaper on the day of the last Scottish Parliament election?
Well, there was no mass exodus - at any of the points listed above, from either the UK or Scotland.
Opponents of a local income tax are becoming quite desperate in their attempts to find reasons to oppose it, and this latest attempt is more than a little pathetic. The people listed in the newspaper article above are super rich, and can clearly afford to pay more in local taxation. Has it ever occurred to any of those people who are commentating on this matter, than the rich individuals listed would be happy to pay more in local taxation if it meant that people who are really struggling to pay the Council Tax would have their bills cut? They really are assuming the worst of those people.
Last week, the critics were opposing a local income tax because it would only be levied on earned income, and not take into account those people in Scotland living off unearned income like dividends. A few points here. Firstly, are we really going to keep in place a discredited system like Council Tax, which is detrimental to so many people in this country because of how it will/will not impact on a handful of wealthy individuals? Secondly, if these wealthy individuals are not going to be liable for a local income tax, then they evidently aren't liable for income tax, which is reserved to Westminster. Perhaps people are pointing the fingers in the wrong direction on that one. Thirdly, the critics can't have it both ways. One week they are claiming that the local income tax will benefit the super rich, and the next the claim it will penalise them to the point that they will flee the country!
The people of this country will see through arguments that inconsistent - and can tell the difference between intelligent debate and opposition, and opposition for its own sake from a Labour Party, its cronies and other self-interested hangers-on bereft of any new ideas of their own, and certainly without any genuine drive to improve the lives of the people of Scotland.