Among the many deceptions, prevarications, misdirections and outright lies in today’s ‘Autumn Statement’ by Tory Chancellor George Osborne, one in particular stood out for me, because it revived one of this government’s earliest and most ludicrous claims – that “we’re all in it together”.
Here’s what Osborne claimed:
..the decisions across this Parliament mean the rich are making the biggest contribution to deficit reduction.
In fact, the net contribution of the richest 20% will be larger than the remaining 80% put together – proving we are all in this together.
In fact, as with most of what Osborne tried to make of the sow’s ear of his government’s policies, results and philosophy, this statement is hogwash.
Osborne’s claim is that the richest 20% of the population are paying more than 50% of the total tax revenue – but it can only be just over 50%, or else he would be giving more details.
Here’s the government’s own chart of the share of the total personal income in the UK by decile (10% of the population) – published in April 2014 but only showing up to 2012:
This chart shows that the richest 20% of the population earned 48.2% of the total income – a shade under half. So what Osborne really said is that the small number of people earning just under half of the country’s total personal income paid just over half of the total tax.
Even if this were the whole picture, it would mean that those very rich people paid an almost identical tax rate in pence per £ as the rest of us – instead of the higher tax rates that our tax system supposedly allocates to high incomes.
Another term for that is a ‘flat tax’ – the Holy Grail of right-wingers the world over, because they know that a tax rate of, say, 30% has nothing like the impact on the wealth and comfort of a rich person as it does on average and poor people.
But that’s not the whole picture. It’s well known that the inclusion of the top 1% in the top decile means that the income figures are unreliable and understated, because the super-rich can hide/move their income all over the world and it’s almost impossible to tell just how much they earn.
But let’s be generous to George Osborne (even if he’s only generous to the rich) and assume that the 48.2% figure is correct. The ‘holy grail of the rich’, a flat tax, cannot by any truthful definition be taken as ‘proving that we are all in it together’.
In fact, the situation is getting far worse, not better. Every income inequality measure shows that inequality is getting worse in the UK. Even the government’s own figures.
Here’s a graph showing the total share of national personal income, produced by the coalition’s own DWP in August 2010:
It’s easy to see that the richest 20% in 2010 received (I won’t say ‘earned’) around 46% of the UK’s total personal income.
46% in 2010, 48.2% in 2012. Worse, not better.
We have never been ‘all in it together’ – and we are less ‘in it together’ now than we were when this sorry, venal, duplicitous and traitorous excuse for a government came to power.
One last comment. Osborne tried to crack wise in his speech by referring to the next Mars landing mission and describing the ‘desolate wasteland’ of the ‘Red’ planet. Well, George, if you know anything about the solar system you will know that the blue planet is Neptune.
It’s bloated, gaseous, insubstantial – and poisonous to humanity.
See the articles below for other examples of this kind of deliberate Tory deceitfulness: