SNP policy on tax havens: Turn Scotland into one


The SNP would turn Scotland into a tax haven with a policy similar to that of the Conservative Party, according to the best evidence available on the day after Labour announced it would crack down on tax avoidance.

The Courier stated in August last year: “SNP proposals to cut corporation tax could turn an independent Scotland into a tax haven for multinational companies such as Google and Microsoft, according to Labour’s finance spokesman.

“[Iain] Gray told [an] audience of small business owners: “If you deliberately set your corporation tax, not at what you think is right, but less than the country next door to you, what you’re doing is you’re trying to create yourself as a tax haven.”

But Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney said the proposed cut in corporation tax would make Scotland a more competitive place to do business and create an incentive for growth, according to the article.

Of course, cutting Corporation Tax in order to get businesses to base themselves in your country is now a well-known phenomenon. The Irish republic did it – and what happened? According to Mr Gray: “Google and Microsoft set up in Ireland, move their money through Ireland but don’t employ people there; they simply use it as a conduit in order to pay less tax.”

George Osborne has tried a similar policy UK-wide, cutting Corporation tax by 25 per cent during the course of the Coalition Parliament. The result has been a drop in Treasury tax receipts.

So what can be said about SNP policy, on the day after Labour announced it would crack down on tax havens?

Only that they would copy the Tories – and try to turn Scotland into one.

(Or are we about to hear an announcement?)

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20 thoughts on “SNP policy on tax havens: Turn Scotland into one

  1. Ray

    You quote the totally inept failed former Red Tory Leader in Scotland, Ian Grey as if he is some sort of ‘Economic Genius’ this guy doesn’t even know what an ‘Oil Fund’ is.

    You really are letting your standards slip Vox!

    Further, CGT is not the ‘open door’ to ‘Tax Avoidance’ as you maintain, Osborne’s ‘Shortfall’ has very little to do with the ‘Level of CGT’ but more to do with the complicity of Labour in keeping wages down, amongst other things
    Ask yourself just this one Question, ‘If we have more people in employment now, than we ever have had in our entire history, then why have tax revenues decreased?

    I know the answer as do You, because Labour introduced ‘Welfare for Employers’ to keep wages down, they also didn’t outlaw ‘Zero Hours’ contracts, nor did they fight back against the EU when the EU deemed that a ‘Full Time’ Job’ is if you work 16 hours a week.

    You really should get your head out the sand Vox, Labour are just Red Tories, and long past their sell by date.

    If you want real change, this May 7th, Vote Greens in England, Plaid in Wales and SNP in Scotland, that is the only way we will rid Westminster of the Blue, Red, Yellow and Purple Tories and Troughers!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I quoted the parts of Iain Gray’s speech that are inarguable. What a shame that you’ve decided to argue with them!
      We are not discussing Capital Gains Tax here but Corporation Tax. You should not accuse me of letting my standards slip when you make it clear you do not understand the point of the article.
      Of course, Labour is NOT complicit in keeping wages down. Labour is the party of Opposition and has been unable to prevent Tory and Lib Dem measures that have contributed to wage depression. You really should read a few more Vox Political articles before writing ill-advised comments!
      Tax revenues have decreased – as this blog has pointed out with diligent regularity – because of zero-hours contracts, part-time contracts, temporary work and the government’s Work Programmes. Those have all been Coalition policies.
      Don’t tell me to get my head out of the sand when you can’t get the sand out of your ears and eyes.
      If you vote Green in England, Plaid in Wales and SNP in Scotland you will get a majority Conservative government – that is plain for all to see.
      Don’t erode the left-wing vote – strengthen it. By all means vote for those parties in constituencies where it will erode support for the Tories or UKIP, but don’t be stupid with it, as ‘Ray’ here seems to be demanding.

      1. OhDidYeAye?

        Not to put some rain on your parade here but using your own articles as a source to prove your intellectual authority puts you on some shaky ground, and as an avid reader standards on this site have been somewhat slipping. It seems more like a propaganda site now than when I first started reading. Neither of you make a particularly convincing point, you both just sound like you’re fluffing your feathers.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        What a lot of hogwash. “Standards are slipping” according to a reader who simply doesn’t like what’s being reported? Look at you – too scared even to put your own name to your comments!
        Where, exactly, in this piece, do I use one of my own articles as a source? The Courier is nothing to do with me!

      3. OhDidYeAye?

        I don’t believe that at any point I stated I disagreed with you at any point? All I said was that you had a sparse argument in your above comment where you clearly stated that regardless of what the above commenter may have read you were a more credible source:

        “Of course, Labour is NOT complicit in keeping wages down. Labour is the party of Opposition and has been unable to prevent Tory and Lib Dem measures that have contributed to wage depression. You really should read a few more Vox Political articles before writing ill-advised comments!”

        I never post my name on these message board as due to my job I keep myself to myself lest some ignoramus start some ridiculous smear campaign or have my social media account barraged for disagreeing with their opinion and to reduce the risk of starting political debate in my classroom.

        However, your article would hold more stead if you had reported the actual legislation you were criticising rather than analysing a quote that supported your argument made by a challenging party.

        Also, in my own opinion, Labour shouldn’t be shouting about anything or anyone being ‘afraid’, given how recent votes have gone down. Of late they have certainly not been a “party of opposition” in recent times, especially in Scotland.

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        Oh I’m so sorry – I didn’t realise you were replying to a reply that I made!
        I use my own articles as reliable sources simply because they are – all my articles quote their source material, which means readers can look it up for themselves. Whether you agree with my opinions or not, the material is available for you to make up your own mind.
        Therefore I disagree with you – my argument that another commenter should read more VP articles is not “sparse” and they would learn from the experience.
        As for quoting the legislation that I was criticising – I assume this is the legislation that has cut Corporation Tax in the UK by 25 per cent since 2010, so you would want the Finance Acts for the years since the Coalition took power.
        Your opinion about Labour not being a party of Opposition is laughable. In addition to reading more of this blog, you should read Hansard.
        … or are you one of the loonies (I’ve met one now, as well) who think it’s written by the party in government, rather than an independent record?

      5. Thomas M

        Voting Green in England is a wasted vote. Voting Plaid in Wales might be a wasted vote. Voting SNP in Scotland is not a wasted vote.

      6. Mike Sivier Post author

        But do people really know what they’re voting for? That’s the point of this article.
        Wait until you see tomorrow’s…

  2. Jim Round

    The SNP are just playing a game of one upmanship with England and Wales.
    I have yet to see a workable solution to this or any other taxation problem.

    1. Jim Round

      And am I right in saying that Chris Leslie was on TVs this morning saying “it’s not the Labour Party’s intention to increase corporation tax to levels seen in some parts of Europe”
      So what will be the rate under Labour?

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        I doubt we’ll know until we get a Labour government. Until they see the books, they can’t make any promises about what the levels of tax will be.
        It seems likely this announcement was made to bolster corporate confidence – there’s been a lot of propaganda saying Labour is ‘bad for business’ recently and obviously Labour will want to make it clear that this is a lie.
        Think about it – we’re talking about the LABOUR Party. Labour needs business – and in a healthy condition – in order to fulfil its reason for existence: Providing good jobs with decent pay and conditions so ALL the people of the UK can enjoy a good quality of life.

  3. neilo

    “If you vote Green in England, Plaid in Wales and SNP in Scotland you will get a majority Conservative government – that is plain for all to see. Don’t erode the left-wing vote – strengthen it.”

    With respect, the Green in England, Plaid in Wales and SNP in Scotland are the ONLY parties available to left wing voters. To do anything other than vote for one of those would be to “erode the left-wing vote”.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      With respect, you’ve been paying too much attention to right-wing propaganda. Not your fault, really, when the mainstream media are almost entirely owned by right-wingers. Why would the right-wing media want you to believe that the Greens, Plaid and the SNP were left-wing and Labour not? In order to return a Tory government, of course.

      1. neilo

        Thanks for your reply. But with all due respect, I don’t pay much attention to the traditional right-wing propagandists – and when I do, I recognise it for what it is. It is the Labour propagandists (Brown, Murphy, Balls, Miliband et al) that have reinforced my understanding that they are just another (right) wing of the Westminster establishment party – i.e. Tory 2.0.

        I don’t subscribe to the right-wing media – apart from the occasional browse through a misguided article or two on Vox Pol. I’d like to retort with ‘Not your fault, really’ – but that would be inaccurate and condescending. I can, however, see objectively that your self-destructive party’s increasingly panicked and deplorable foraging for sound-bites and ‘vows’ must be forcing you into a lonely corner from which the only escape is by barging through reality with histrionic and magnificent delusional outbursts based on the fact that The Labour Party used to be left-wing.

        So I do have some sympathy for your position, and some worry for your reputation; your credibility as a respected blogger, however, is now tainted by a blind and misguided loyalty to a party whose ideals died some decades ago.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Ah, my credibility’s in the balance again, is it?
        Well, you’re the first one today to make that claim (slow day) but my credibility really isn’t under any threat from the increasingly shrill insistences of commenters like yourself.
        Regarding the rest of your comment, it seems clear that you have written it in order to do the most damage to me while providing the least evidence to support your view.
        You don’t have a leg to stand on and there is no reason anybody should believe you.

  4. Gavin MacMillan

    Afraid I have to agree with OhDidYeAye? This site does read like a propaganda page for Labour these days, with no seeming recognition that Labour, despite their tweaking round the edges, are still very much at heart, proponents of the neolib economic ideology of free market imperatives, further austerity and “f%#k the unemployed and poor”! That you continue to push the mantra of “vote green, get blue” is to me a symptom of at least part of the problem facing the UK – fear! People who are too fecking frightened to vote for what is best/needed because it is better to stay with the status quo of what we know. Project Fear – as used in the recent Scottish Indyref – is alive and well, and currently renting space on your blog!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Fear is certainly the motivating force behind the anti-Labour campaigns, with many of those involved invoking the same stories that you’re pushing in your comment. You have activists on one side saying Labour is still neoliberal (like yourself) and ignoring the facts of Labour policy. Neoliberal free-marketeers would not be calling for a freeze on energy prices while they consider renationalising the energy firms; they would not be advocating the creation of a new national rail company to take franchises away from the private firms and they most certainly would not be demanding the return of the English NHS to the State. Fear is certainly a motivating force behind Lynton Crosby’s “They’re All The Same” campaign (of which you seem keen to be a part), which would have voters believe that Labour’s plan to cut £7 bn from state spending over the next five years is exactly the same as the Conservative plan to cut £50 bn from state spending. Labour might not even have to do that if it manages to raise sufficient funds from closed-down tax havens within the first six months of taking office, as revealed on Friday – but still there are some who cling to the myth that Labour is committed to following Tory austerity plans. Where do these people come from? Perhaps you could tell me. Then there are those who adamantly demand that we believe a vote for Labour is the same as a vote for Soviet Communism – that Labour will nationalise everything, take all the money for the State and leave everyone in pretty much the same situation the Coalition has – if we’re all honest with ourselves.
      The aim is to erode the Labour vote in order to make it possible for the Conservatives – who, let’s not forget, cannot be trusted to be truthful about their plans – to retain office. That is what these people want – to stamp the iron boot of Conservatism in the faces of the poor for the next five years – to remove your human rights, to cut a million public sector jobs, to continue selling publicly-owned assets to private corporations at rock-bottom prices, to deny state benefits to anybody aged under 25… the list goes on.
      The people behind this want to divert your attention away from that and onto Labour. Of course they want you to say that it is fearmongering to point out the simple fact that eroding Labour’s vote with inaccurate criticisms – it helps their case. Of course they want you to say that there’s a nasty ‘Project Fear’, designed to make the smaller parties look like an unwise choice. And of course they are helped in the fact by the simple fact that voting Green will take votes away from the Tories’ chief opponents – Labour – and open the door for their candidates to win.
      It isn’t scaremongering to ask why people who accuse Labour of such policies and projects want another Conservative government – it’s simple logic.
      Why do you want another Conservative government, Gavin?
      Or did you switch off when you realised I was actually making sense?

  5. Neil Ross

    Problem with your source Mike: Iain Gray and The Courier were firmly anti-independence, and the article was from August last. At the height of the indyref campaign.

    It was an idea that Swinney was knocking about at the time, and almost everyone neglected to mention that he put tougher collection of taxes alongside that. A lesson he clearly learned from the various tax loophole problems HMRC got into under both Tory and Labour gov’ts.

    So the Courier for one, although far from alone, reported only the part that suited their agenda, as have you.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      The Courier was reporting a meeting of a public authority. In such circumstances, newspapers must follow the rules or may face prosecution for defamation if false information is provided.
      Was it prosecuted? No – we know that because the article is still available to be seen, and it would have to have been taken down if inaccurate information had been published.
      In addition, the policy has since been reported by the Financial Times as having been presented by the SNP on January 29 this year. Is it still “an idea that Swinney was knocking about at the time”, having been presented to the FT (and by the FT) as current policy?
      I don’t think so.
      What were you trying to achieve by this weak attack?

  6. Neil Ross

    Attack? I’m not attacking. Merely pointing out that the Courier is a piss-poor source. The FT is a much better source!

    I am trying to have a debate about this. You put up a point, I put up mine. If you’ve got a problem with criticism of your post, then the problem’s all yours. I accept criticism.

    And why shouldn’t Swinney or anyone else explore other ways? It’s what we elected him to do. Lower a rate but collect more: what’s wrong with that? Our tax profile isn’t the same as WMs, so why should a one size fits all policy be blindly accepted?

Comments are closed.