The mainstream media – abetted as usual by a selection of the ‘usual suspects’ among right-wing Labour MPs – have attempted to make mischief and distract from the flop of Philip Hammond’s budget by highlighting and attacking Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s comment that Labour would support Hammond’s planned increase to the higher-rate tax threshold.
As usual, the faux-outrage doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
Contrary to what is implied in the attacks, Hammond did not raise threshold for the highest rate of tax, but for those on middle incomes to start paying the next-highest – from £46,384 to £50,024.
Labour has two major tax policies: to reverse corporation tax cuts and to put the top rate of tax, for those earning over £150,000, back up from its current 45% to 50%. Those policies will transfer around £75 billion from the richest back to the rest of us.
The party has also promised, in its last general election manifesto, not to raise taxes at all for anyone earning below £80,000 a year.
None of those promises or policies are at odds with a raised tax threshold for middle earners, especially when a £50,000 salary for a single-income family in the south-east is still not enough to buy a house in many places.
The lowest earners, of course, receive hardly anything – a mere £650 increase in the basic-rate tax threshold, which those on higher incomes also get, as well as the additional £4,000. The net effect of the tax-threshold changes is that low earners only get at best £155 a year more, while higher earners receive £566.
But that is on Hammond and the Tories, not on the Labour Party in opposition. All Labour can do is support or vote against what Hammond has put on the table – and why would Labour vote against a tax-cut for low and middle earners?
The outrage is misdirected. Just for a change, you understand.
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