Michael Meacher's letter

I saw this letter on Twitter this morning:

The annual Sunday Times Rich List yields four very important conclusions for the governance of Britain (Report, Weekend, 28 April). It shows that the richest 1,000 persons, just 0.003% of the adult population, increased their wealth over the last three years by £155bn. That is enough for themselves alone to pay off the entire current UK budget deficit and still leave them with £30bn to spare.

Second, this mega-rich elite, containing many of the bankers and hedge fund and private equity operators who caused the financial crash in the first place, have not been made subject to any tax payback whatever commensurate to their gains. Some 77% of the budget deficit is being recouped by public expenditure cuts and benefit cuts, and only 23% is being repaid by tax increases. More than half of the tax increases is accounted for by the VAT rise which hits the poorest hardest. None of the tax increases is specifically aimed at the super-rich.

Third, despite the biggest slump for nearly a century, these 1,000 richest are now sitting on wealth greater even than at the height of the boom just before the crash. Their wealth now amounts to £414bn, equivalent to more than a third of Britain's entire GDP. They include 77 billionaires and 23 others, each possessing more than £750m.

The increase in wealth of this richest 1,000 has been £315bn over the last 15 years. If they were charged capital gains tax on this at the current 28% rate, it would yield £88bn, enough to pay off 70% of the entire deficit. It seems however that Osborne takes the notorious view of the New York heiress, Leonora Helmsley: "Only the little people pay taxes."
Michael Meacher MP
Labour, Oldham West and Royton

Staggeringly depressing numbers to start the day with. Enough to make anyone rage at the coalition.  Until, of course, the truth is pointed out:

This brought to mind something Ed Brayton said on one of his recent shows.  Paraphrasing:  "If voting is always picking the lesser of two evils, doesn't that mean we're always voting for someone evil?"

This is why I voted for to the alternative vote system in the UK.  And yet another reason to dislike the Tories and their self-serving politics.  At least Ed Miliband supported AV.  Maybe that guy's not so bad after all.


  1. Nick Yates says:

    The more important figure is the national debt which stands above a trillion I think. The deficit adds to that every year, but balancing payments for one year won't really help. We need trillions not billions and in that context the rich aren't actually that rich after all.

    1. Cai says:

      Perhaps. I must admit I don't understand national debt. But the first step to paying it off is surely cutting the deficit so at least it doesn't grow more than its interest. Please correct me if you know more.

      And while the rich aren't that rich, corporations are often that rich, right? Yet we seem to throw away billions because the government dare not lift a finger against the richest corporations, or else they don't even want to.

      To this end, even if one is to buy the "we're all in this together" line, the pain being inflicted on the middle and working class through public spending and wellfare cuts stings all the more when there's this huge corporate sector of tax-dodging über-wealth. Maybe fair taxes won't solve every monetary problem, but they'd sure help a lot in balancing the books, and the coalition's not even trying it. Cutting public spending was their first choice because they hate it as a matter of principle; what other explanation can there be?

      If this country was sinking and it was all hands on deck, fine. It would hurt everyone but we'd have to take it. But the wealthiest are barely taxed, according to Meachers. In fact their wealth is growing year-over-year, rather than that of the lower classes. The cuts have been deep, but also swift — they were itching to bring down the axe — and that really stings too.

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