Business Eye: Time for me to join the party?

Alex Pratt
Alex Pratt

Before I start, I should point out that I don’t vote for any one party at elections nor have I been a member of any political party.

Politics is a somewhat alien world to me, so whenever I’ve been lucky enough to give a little back I’ve tried improving prosperity, fairness and justice in the background.

It’s why I sat as a Magistrate

for 15 years and why today I help out Bucks Business First.

I do however admire politicians for their willingness to step forward and take on the challenges that face our communities.

It was therefore with anticipation that I attended the Labour and Tory Party Conferences this year to glean a stronger sense of the differences between them and what we might expect from either in terms of the economy in the event of an outright victory.

Sadly, I had neither the time nor resources to get to the Liberal Democrat and UKIP soirees but do plan to get there next year.

The party speakers’ all deployed similar rhetoric but they were very different in spirit.

Both focussed on justice for the working man, both focussed hard on their version of fairness, both claimed to be a one nation party, and both made a strong play that they were the part of small business.

Of course, the different political definitions of fairness between Red Ed and the Cameroons were miles apart. For labour fairness for the working man is all about a fair share of the collective cake and making sure that business doesn’t keep too much.

If I had a pound for every time the phrase “Tax cuts for millions, not millionaires” was used, I’d be able to retire. Sharing the economic cake was much more important than how big it was.

For the Tories, fairness was all about the aspirational hardworking woman growing the cake and being able to keep more of what they generate through their hard work, with less redistribution to those who perhaps could work harder but choose not to.

Both parties were for benefits for those who couldn’t work through illness or disability, but the Tories test for fairness was no spare bedrooms paid for by the taxpayer while labour wants to see a “living wage”. Do well under Labour and the State will take more of your money and share it out. Under the Tories the gap between rich and poor will widen.

On this point I was interested to read that the top 0.1% of taxpayers, i.e. the top 30,000 now pay £22 billion in tax, or an average of £750k each and over 14% of the total income tax take, which is twice what they did in 2004.

So even under the Tories, the rich are shouldering twice the burden. How much does Labour think will be fair? Both are committed to equality of opportunity. They are diametrically opposed on the fairness of outcomes.