Saturday, July 26, 2014

What I might have said

Last Wednesday I missed the meeting of Stockton Borough Council.  This is not something I do frequently or lightly but because I'd been laid low by a bug of some sort Wednesday was one of those occasions.  The agenda consisted of approving the decisions made by Cabinet the week before (officially known as recommendations but the inbuilt majority of the Labour/IBIS coalition means they're guaranteed a safe passage), debate and vote on a motion put by a Labour member and listening to the cabinet member answer a pre-submitted question from a back bench member, rounded off by the leader giving a summary of the forward plan for the council.
On only one of these items would I definitely have spoken and it would have been to point out the economic illiteracy of the motion proposed.  At first sight the idea of a Financial Transaction Tax might be attractive - extract some money from those who spend their efforts on moving money around instead of doing a "proper job" so that it can be used to reduce the burden on the poor of society.  I've had people encourage me to support such a tax and indeed I read up on it because it did seem like a good idea at first.  I was very quickly disabused though.  What do financially literate people do when faced with a tax charge?  They find a legal way to avoid it, whether by establishing an office overseas or by transferring their business elsewhere.  Witness the outcry over Amazon and other such large corporate entities.  So introducing a Financial Transaction Tax in this country would levy taxation only on those who can't move their transactions elsewhere - it wouldn't raise much if anything in revenue and would take business out of the country and along with it the income tax paid by its employees.
That didn't stop the Labour councillors supporting their colleague of course, especially as the opening paragraphs were the real point of the motion - a bit of coalition bashing always goes down well with Labour in Stockton.
So the only real vote on Wednesday night was to lobby the government to introduce something which it won't touch.  Great example of democracy!

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