I'm sure many of you have by now heard of Ed Balls' recent speech given at last week's Fabian event. In it he pledged a future Labour Government would re-instate the 50p rate of tax.
Within hours our right-wing media jumped into claim that reinstating the 50p tax rate was the "politics of envy". How ironic.They completely miss that for the last three years, those with power and wealth so coveted our NHS, the Coalition obligingly sold it to them. They so wanted our Royal Mail Service, the Coalition sold it to them, vastly undervalued. They so wanted our state education system, that through free schools and academies, the Coalition has been selling it to them. The "politics of envy" have been undermining our public services for far too long. It's about time the public got something back.
But the 50p tax rate should be just the start of reforming a tax system that is failing us. If we're to have the public services we all desire than tax justice will need to be an integral part of any future Labour Government's legislative programme. Recouping the £25bn worth of tax avoided by the wealthiest each year would be a start. A commitment to clamp down on all possible loopholes with a General Anti-Tax Avoidance Bill, another.Whilst ending the practice of accountancy firms helping the Treasury draw up tax laws, only to then advise their clients on how to get around them.
This isn't about punishing bankers, business' or anyone else. Rather it's about acknowledging that we are all collectively wealth creators and as such should all benefit from our efforts. Whether national infrastructure, public health, education or social safety nets, individuals as well as business's benefit from public services in a myriad of ways. Therefore what our party must do is re-establish that balance - a balance that has been out of kilter now for the past 30 years.