A look at Labour’s 2017 general election manifesto.
Spend, spend, spend. Labour’s manifesto includes a range of pledges that will increase state spending by tens of billions of pounds. A quick calculation puts the total increase in annual expenditure at around £50bn. This is before we include the cost of nationalising the railways, the national grid, Royal Mail, and setting up regional energy suppliers.
Adding the £50bn to the current deficit level gives you a total hole in the public finances of around one hundred billion. The funding sources Labour have highlighted to plug this gap include:
An increase in income tax to 45p in the pound for people earning over £80,000
A new 50p rate for those earning over £123,000
A rise in corporation tax
An excessive pay levy for people on salaries above £330,000
The party says these measures will raise £48.6bn. Even if we accept the validity of these figures, there remains a huge hole in the state budget. The four brain cells shared between messrs Corbyn, McDonnell, Thornberry, and Abbott are clearly unable to perform basic arithmetic, let alone run a country.
I could go on here to explain that because of behavioural changes, Labour has undervalued the cost of its policies and overestimated tax revenue. For me, however, one of the central points most commentators have missed is the whole premise around which the manifesto is built – that we are entitled to other people’s money. The blasé, entitled attitude displayed in this matter is abhorrent.
And it isn’t just the hard left; this attitude has been slowly creeping into all wings of the party since the New Labour years. A few months ago, Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North and clearly aligned to the right of the party, wrote an essay in the New Statesman. When discussing taxing wealth, he talked about “asking those who haven’t earned their money to hand a bit more of it over to help those who have”. The first thing that stands out for me is the word “asking”: this is a word repeated by others on the left, including the left-wing columnist Owen Jones and Jeremy Corbyn himself.
Taxation is not a choice. We are not asked before our income tax comes out of our pay checks. We are not able to avoid paying stamp duty. VAT is added onto the price of goods and services before we pay for them. Once the state sets the rate, we are compelled to pay it. The word “ask” implies choice; to use it is in this context is appallingly deceptive.
The other issue is the indifferent attitude displayed by Labour towards property rights. Most economists accept the link between prosperity and private property rights. If you want an example of what happens when the state violates the rights to private ownership, look at Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. This is an extreme example, of course, but you can clearly see what happens when the state decides who deserves to hold assets and who does not. Zimbabwe was once dubbed the breadbasket of Africa; it is precisely this type of overarching state control which has now sent it into the abyss.
What people do with their own money should be up to them as individuals. If people who have been successful or have inherited assets wish to help others through charity, that is great. They should not, however, be compelled to pay for things they do not agree to or with via the state.
Britain is a nation which rewards hard work. The reality is that if you are motivated, ambitious, intelligent, and make the right choices, you will succeed. Corbyn and his team’s entire analysis of our country is wrong. Penalising people for being successful is the politics of envy and the pathway to decline. The British people understand this, even if the Labour party does not.
The late great Gerald Kaufman dubbed the 1983 Labour manifesto “the longest suicide note in history”. It seems Corbyn and his team have not learned their lessons from the past.