Wednesday, 5 January 2011

50p tax-rate - who is Boris speaking for?

The Mayor is back on his favourite hobby horse - campaigning to lower taxes for the richest 300,000 people in Britain.

Interestingly, the claim he previously used to support his campaign - that there would be an exodus of bankers from London - has been dropped. "It's not so much people leaving", the Mayor now says, "it's firms thinking where to open an office next". Firms thinking where to locate next is the new pressing reason why the small number of extremely wealthy people in Britain shouldn't pay 50p from each £1 they earn over £150,000 towards closing the budget deficit, according to the Mayor.

I've written to the Evening Standard on this issue but, in case it fails to makes the final cut (as letters that draw attention to the causes of the budget deficit or the need for fairer taxes and regulation often do), I've reproduced my letter here:

Dear editor,

Boris Johnson appears to have forgotten that the world economy was brought to the brink by unfettered, casino banking (Boris Johnson: help the city by scrapping 50p tax rate, 5 January). He should be more concerned with setting out a sensible way to ensure that this is never allowed to happen again than with seeking to lower taxes for the financial service sector.

Nobody is arguing for bankers to be driven out of London, and what is clear now they haven’t upped sticks as the Mayor warned they would, is that London has far more to offer than low taxes and lax regulation.

London has been a comparatively safe city; a hub of arts, culture and opportunity. It offers much to high and low earners alike that other cities cannot. The real risk to all this comes not from regulation and reasonable rates of taxation, but from huge government cuts to the police, transport, the arts and public services.

London under Boris Johnson is set to lose police officers, council services like libraries and rubbish collection, as well as investment in economic regeneration, public transport and affordable housing. Further and higher edcuation is set to become too expensive for many. Rather than campaigning for a tax cut for the richest 300,000 people in Britain, the Mayor should make fighting these threats to our city his priority.

Len Duvall AM Labour group leader, London Assembly

*UPDATE* Pleasantly surprised that my letter has made it onto p.52 of this evening's paper. Should have had more faith in their editorial policy