This week is Queen’s Speech week. Parliament is formally opened on Wednesday. I will produce some pieces this week on the themes of the speech and my advice for the next year’s government programme.
One of the big arguments of the election was about aspiration. Labour concentrated on expressing their hatred of the rich, hoping that jealousy would be the winning emotion. After the results were known they have agreed they overdid the taxes on the better off, and failed to speak to people who want to better themselves. The Conservative message of tax cuts for the many was more popular. Labour has now decided to drop its proposal of a Mansion tax.
Their criticisms of Non Doms were more popular, but always lacked detail over who would lose the status, and how they proposed to tax income and assets owned by people abroad if the people were not full time residents and citizens of the UK. It seemed unlikely they would make everyone who comes to the UK for a given period to invest, spend and employ people pay tax on all their worldwide income and assets that they hold elsewhere. If they did it would dry up a lot of inward investment.
One of the interesting things about democratic politics is that jealousy often does lose elections rather than win them. Labour’s wish to abolish grammar schools was to proceed by asking all the parents to vote in an area, with a large majority of parents of pupils who did not get places at the grammar school. In the first referendum they fought, they lost. Many parents thought it was fine for the winners of the grammar competition to receive the grammar education. They gave up the idea of these votes.
The reasons jealousy often does not work are varied. Some just see it as an unpleasant emotion. Some aspire to the higher levels of income and wealth that left wing parties condemn and wish to tax. Many people who are on lower incomes and have no immediate prospect of being on a higher income may have people in their family or amongst their friends who are better off and they wish them no harm. Some think it reasonable that if someone is a great footballer or singer that they keep a reasonable proportion of the money they earn.
Conservatives too have to grasp that whilst most of us want the rich to pay more, and to pay an appropriate higher proportion of our total taxes, if you overdo the rates or the rules you can end up with less revenue. The message of the election is also that many people do not think the rich should be taxed out of the country or into indolence.