Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024
alert-–-graham-grant:-is-it-time-to-bite-the-bullet-and-take-control-of-tax-from-holyrood-and-give-it-back-to-the-uk?Alert – GRAHAM GRANT: Is it time to bite the bullet and take control of tax from Holyrood and give it back to the UK?

We’re supposed to be grateful that further tax hikes may be off the table – or at least that’s the substance of some strategic government briefings.

And certainly that’s preferable to the alternative – though the proof will be in the pudding, and we’ll find out soon enough whether the spin is on the money.

But is this really the sum of Humza Yousaf’s ambition, given that we’re already the most punitively taxed part of the UK thanks to relentless SNP tax raids?

It hardly amounts to a credible economic plan but it shows how a by-election drubbing can concentrate minds and force a welcome change of tack.

First Minister Humza Yousaf ‘s government has hinted that further tax hikes may be off the table 

Really, though, these are mere crumbs from the table, and suggesting that there won’t be another assault on our bank balances next April is woefully inadequate.

Mr Yousaf, or his spin doctors, are telling us that we may not suffer another tax-grab, but why was one being countenanced in the first place?

We know that it was, as the First Minister was fond of issuing veiled and not-so-veiled threats about higher taxes – in the name of ‘progressive’ values.

It’s a mark of how out of touch Team Yousaf is that it has taken this long to see the light, but it’s obvious that this is a desperate rearguard manoeuvre.

The mere fact that this idea was on the table in the first place (and maybe still is, depending on whether you buy the leaks) demonstrates the disconnect between the political class and the mere mortals toiling to keep roofs over their heads and provide food for their families.

A bolder move than sparing us from a tax hike would be slashing taxes to turn Scotland into an economic powerhouse – and a magnet for the brightest and best. The likelihood of that eventuality is easy to gauge with a quick search of the Scottish parliament’s website, which contains material such as debate transcripts.

There are 119 mentions of ‘tax cuts’ since 1999 and 35,150 hits for ‘independence’ (and it won’t surprise you to learn that there are 48,164 for ‘progressive’).

Undoing the tax hikes which have created a growing cross-Border disparity is mooted by the Tories, but a sustained programme of tax reduction, including plans for a ‘flat tax’ – the same rate regardless of income – doesn’t feature anywhere on the agenda.

Perhaps the time is ripe for genuinely bold action – how many of us would be genuinely aggrieved if Holyrood were to be stripped of its tax-varying powers, with control over taxes handed back to the UK Government?

The debate south of the Border is now focusing on when a tax cut might be viable, with inflation seen as the biggest barrier to forging ahead, but a general election next year means that one might well be promised.

Scots who have been robbed blind for years for having the temerity to work for a living can only look on with envy, knowing that the chances of the Yousaf administration following suit are somewhere between negligible and non-existent.

A tax increase might have been shelved for now – if we’re lucky – but the SNP is clearly itching to clobber us with another one whenever the opportunity emerges.

The only way of removing that possibility is revoking those much-vaunted tax-raising powers, which were intended to allow Holyrood to ‘stand on its two feet’. 

In reality, they have provided a licence for grasping politicians to hammer us, using the proceeds to fuel an already bloated public sector.

The last tax hike was justified by John Swinney’s patronising nonsense about a ‘penny for patient care’ – you can judge how well that’s working out by having a look at the front page of yesterday’s Mail, with the headline ‘Warning over NHS Winter of Chaos’.

How much of the cash raised so far has been ploughed into patient care, as promised, is anyone’s guess.

Would there be mass protests in the street against any move to take tax powers away from the First Minister and his successors?

Possibly, and you can bet that the numbers would be exaggerated by the organisers – who are also past masters at massively overstating the turnout for pro-independence rallies.

A lot of the professionals who have paid such a heavy price for the SNP’s ‘progressive’ politics would stay at home, but then many of them might have upped sticks by then anyway – driven away by a greedy government machine leeching more cash from fast-depleting monthly pay packets.

Changes to income tax introduced earlier this year have already forced 530,000 workers earning more than £43,662 to pay more income tax.

And everyone earning more than £27,850 pays more income tax in Scotland than they would pay if they worked south of the Border.

Maybe a referendum on tax powers would settle the issue – but that may be a poll too far for the SNP, and indeed for the wider political class.

There would be a lot of hot air from the SNP about undermining devolution but that would be a bit rich from a party which is committed to destroying it.

It might be a different story if there was ever any credible talk about cutting taxes – in a meaningful way – but we all know that’s not going to happen.

Government needs your cash for public inquiries into its own blunders, and for taxpayer-funded credit cards which are used to bankroll yoga classes, nail polish and even pregnancy tests – as we learned earlier this year.

Nicola Sturgeon spent nearly £10,000 alone on VIP services at airports where firms promise to treat customers ‘like royalty’ – and now she’s penning a ‘deeply personal’ memoir after banking the first instalment of a £300,000 advance payment from her publisher.

It’s clear where the priorities of our political masters lie – and they are light-years away from the grind of meeting sky-high mortgage payments and exorbitant energy bills.

We’re also supposed to be incredibly grateful for the council tax freeze – a last-minute, fag-packet move forced on Mr Yousaf so that he would have something memorable to say at his party conference. 

But the SNP once said it would abolish council tax – a move long since consigned to oblivion.

Local authority bosses were wrong-footed by the move –but for years before the first council tax freeze, imposed by Alex Salmond, they shamelessly filled their boots with inflation-busting hikes, and town hall waste is endemic.

Mr Yousaf is moving towards the centre ground, or so we’re told, but that is a tough task for someone dedicated to tearing apart the UK and whose party is in league with the Marxist Greens.

Taxpayers have been turned into cash-cows for a sprawling public sector dedicated to feathering its own nest – while any hope of creating a competitive economy slowly circles the drain.

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