#LabourConference2021 horrorshow continues with meaningless offer to ditch business rates

Rachel Reeves: she’s probably smiling to hide her resemblance to Morticia Addams, but you’ll notice the rictus ends below the eyes. Terrifying.

Here’s a Labour frontbencher who is actually more Tory than the Tories: Rachel Reeves.

Back in 2013 she vowed to be “tougher than the Tories” … on benefit claimants.

This was at a time when people with long-term illnesses and disabilities were dying because of persecution by the Tory-run Department for Work and Pensions.

Now she’s shadow Chancellor and – lo and behold! – she’s trying to out Tory the Tories again.

Her new wheeze is abolishing business rates – helping bosses, not workers.

She reckons the tax is unfair on business bosses, so she says Labour would freeze it until 2023 and make rate relief for smaller firms more generous.

Then it would scrap rates completely, to be replaced with a new, “modern” business tax which it has yet to define. Is that because business bosses haven’t yet told her what to do?

Apparently this plan would be funded by increasing digital services tax, which is paid by search engines and social media firms – from two per cent to 12 per cent next year.

Then this tax, too, would be replaced by a higher global corporation tax rate, agreed as part of an international scheme.

There’s a serious problem with all of this: Labour is not in government and cannot do any of it.

It is just another fairy story to make Keir Starmer’s rabble look more attractive to businesses.

Reeves herself is quoted by the BBC as saying her pie-in-the-sky ideas would allow businesses to “lead the pack, not watch opportunities go elsewhere” – a clear indication that Starmer’s Labour prioritises bosses over workers.

She will also promise that the party’s new business tax will allow “more frequent revaluations” and “instant reductions in bills” where property values fall – making it easier for bosses to save money. She has no plans to induce firms to distribute saved cash among the workers, though.

She will say Labour would end hundreds of tax reliefs, including the break given to privately-run schools by their charitable status – but Labour would not end the privileged status of those schools or bring them into the national system, which would end the artificial gap between private and state education. Perhaps Ms Reeves is hoping to privately-educate her own two children?

She is also planning to set up an “Office of Value for Money” – which even sounds like a daft Tory idea; “Department of Levelling-Up”, anyone? –  which aides describe as a “hit squad” to scrutinise government spending and ensure tax is used wisely.

Who defines “wise”, in this context? It seem to me that this is also pandering to business bosses.

Indeed, the Federation of Small Businesses has welcomed the proposals. Small businesses are, on average, the lowest-paying employers. While Reeves is offering to ease their tax burden, she would do nothing to improve employee pay.

And it seems the Tories are happy to go along with this pose by Starmer’s neo-Conservative party.

All that Conservative co-chair Oliver Dowden could say was that Labour had threatened businesses in the past, and that only the Tories could be trusted to support them. Then he mouthed that meaningless “Build Back Better” slogan and called it a day.

By treating Reeves seriously, he validated her daft promises.

But we don’t have to.

Remember: none of the promises of StarmerLabour can be trusted. Keir Starmer has broken every promise he has made to party members and he won’t blink before breaking any promise to the wider electorate.

Labour is rejecting its electoral base by siding with bosses against workers, so Hell will freeze over before Rachel Reeves becomes Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Her speech means absolutely nothing.

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