Andrew Marr’s reputation for incisive interviewing was left considerably tattered after he pressed Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey over an alleged £70 billion Tory tax giveaway to the rich and privileged.
They were discussing Labour’s spending plans, which committed the party to more than £63 billion of spending, as follows:
Ms Long-Bailey said Labour’s fiscal rule meant it could not borrow the money but would get it by reversing Tory tax breaks for businesspeople and the very wealthy, totalling more than £70 billion by 2020.
Mr Marr took issue with this, claiming that only £30 billion could be clawed back from Corporation Tax, Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax and the Bank Levy.
It is possible he had a point, because a press release by Labour later on Sunday revealed that the figures – provided for the party by the House of Commons Library – were for a period from 2016 to 2022.
However: Everyone knows that a Labour government, if returned to office in 2020, won’t be demanding back the money that the Tories will have given away to their rich friends by then. That cash will be gone – probably to an offshore tax-haven bank account, never to be seen again by UK Treasury officials.
All Labour could do is reverse the tax giveaway immediately – in 2020 – and start bringing those tax pounds back into public coffers, to be used for the purposes listed above over the five years the party would be in office.
It is clear that, in the five years from 2020, the amounts mentioned by Ms Long-Bailey would be available – unless the Tories did something really stupid like cause the UK’s economic collapse. This is likely, of course.
But she did say that all the calculations were subject to change when Labour finally gets back into office and has a chance to examine the books.
It seems Mr Marr was trying to combine two separate issues: Labour’s revelation that the Tories will have given away £73.6 billion to a wealthy few individuals and businesses by 2022, if their tax policies are allowed to continue that long; and Labour’s spending plans, which are related, but are not directly fixed to the amount of the Tory tax giveaway – just to the tax measures that have been changed.
So Mr Marr’s argument is false and he should not have been asked to present it.
Here are the facts about the Tory tax giveaway, courtesy of the Labour Party and the House of Commons Library:
Labour research in consultation with the House of Commons Library, using official costings of policy measures introduced since the Conservatives have been in power since 2010, reveals that from 2016/17 to 2021/22 over £70 billion will be handed out to a wealthy few individuals and businesses.
The table below illustrates what these tax changes represent:
Tax measure changed – Foregone revenue from change between 2016/17-2021/22 (£bn)
Corporation Tax -63.8
Inheritance Tax -3.6
Capital Gains Tax -0.8
Bank Levy -5.4
Shadow Treasury Spokesperson said:
“The £70bn is a conservative figure that comes from Labour research in consultation with the House of Commons Library. It includes the effects between now and 2022 of the changes to taxes made by the Tories since they came to power. This represents a massive giveaway to the rich and corporations, especially unacceptable at a time our NHS is in crisis and families are being hit with cuts in tax credits.“
“The Tories are hitting low and middle earners while giving away over £60bn in corporation tax breaks alone in the coming years. When you add in Capital Gains Tax, inheritance tax, their failure on the bank levy and on tackling tax avoidance the scale of their unfair choices becomes clear. Labour would make different choices. We will set out our detailed plans at the election but one thing is clear: unlike the Tories we will put ordinary people first, not the few at the top.”
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