Taxation may, on the surface, sound like one of the duller policy issues at this General Election but it can be just as divisive as immigration policy and it affects every working person in the whole of the UK.
Tax avoidance according to the HMRC is: “is bending the rules of the tax system to gain a tax advantage that parliament never intended.”
Bending the rules, not breaking the rules. So what? If it’s all legal what is the problem?
The ugly spectacle of tax avoidance has cropped up again and again as some of the wealthiest in our society exploit legal loopholes to pay a mere a fraction of their income into Treasury coffers. From Starbucks to Gary Barlow tax avoidance is rife among those that can afford to pay expensive accountants to circumnavigate our confusing sea of taxation laws.
The problem is that these loopholes almost exclusively benefit the rich. There may be a degree of ‘banker bashing’ associated with this view and that it is all too easy to blame the woes of the country on those byzantine City lot. However I strongly believe we should not be held to ransom by the 1%. It is often cited that to raise taxes on the rich and end non-dom status will see cause a mass exodus of the wealthy.
It’s time to call their bluff. We need a fairer tax system.
Prediction: Such a tough one to call, I’m not sure how he will do it but I see David Cameron remaining at No.10.
Voting Intention: Labour. The scrapping of non-dom status, the reintroduction of the 50% tax rate and a ‘mansion tax’ on homes worth over £2million appeal to me. Will these policies be successful in helping create fairer society? I don’t know, but I’d like to give a try.
The key issue for me this election is similar to that of the referendum. No, not independence (although listening to Jim “Shouty” Murphy & Willie Rennie gang up on Nicola Sturgeon in the last debate you could be forgiven for thinking it was)
For me, the key issues are the EU, austerity and Trident. As Labour (a once centre-left party) drift ever more to the centre right and look to pass austerity measures (which they did with the Tories last time anyway) and all major Westminster parties want to continue spending money on worthless weapons, it’s pretty clear where my vote is going.
I believe in the EU, I believe it is working and making this continent a more peaceful and prosperous place. Yes, it has faults as does everything, but to pander to the right and speak of reform or a referendum on leaving the EU is simply too much for me. Even having such a ridiculous pledge on a manifesto screams desperation in my eyes and I will not vote for ANY party that tries to remove the UK for the EU especially when it panders to fascist extremists such as Nigel Farage.
While many argue “we won’t leave anyway” and “according to polls it’s never going to happen” the idea of even allowing Farage and others to have a matter they care so passionately about voted on is too much. I will not tolerate such pandering to extreme parties and even flirting with the idea of leaving the EU is a red line for me.
Prediction: Labour and SNP in a supply and demand deal.
Voting intention: I’m voting SNP.
Over two years ago I had the opportunity to seat at the Scottish Parliament for the First Minister Question Time.
Amongst the pantomime-like performance the politicians provided to the audience, it was Nicola Sturgeon, playing back then, the role of Deputy First Minister, who grabbed my attention.
Sturgeon was sturdy, direct, putting her point across without asking for sympathy. I had just moved to Scotland from England and knew nothing about her and not much more about Scottish politics. And there I was, intrigued by that strong woman and what she had to say.
The following year not even a defeat on the Referendum could stop the rise of Sturgeon to power. And so far this year she keeps on rising, bringing a whole country over her shoulders. That alone should be praised, but looking a little more deeply to her party’s manifesto it makes easy to sway towards their pledges and ethos.
The two most important issues, to me particularly, are health and equality.
The NHS it’s without a doubt in need of further investment, however I don’t believe privatisation is the answer. The system is the best in the world and should be priority of the next government.
Another very important issue is equality. We should be entitled to live in a fair society where there’s no place for prejudice against race, colour, gender, sexuality, age, disability, religion, national or social origin.
Prediction: Ed Milliband will be the next Prime Minister and that the SNP will win comfortably in Scotland.
Voting intention: As a European citizen I’m not entitled to vote in the General Election.
Education. Education. Education. That’s the key issue in this election. It’s not the only issue, I’m not even sure it’s the most important, but it is key.
Education is the great leveller. Education empowers the powerless. Education can take you anywhere if you apply yourself and you’re given the opportunities to do so.
A faulty secondary education system robs people of those opportunities. A further education that is entirely dependent on your ability to pay large sums of money robs people of those opportunities. An education system at risk of following victim to commercial interests and pressures robs people of those opportunities.
An empowered electorate with the knowledge and the skills to make whatever they want of themselves will make this country a better place. They’ll root out the insidious corruption of capitalism that lacks a conscience and the greed of a cynical two party system and replace it with something better.
I want to live in a country based on the idea that you can achieve anything you want, without the ruthless spectre of self-interest promoted by those in power resting its cold dead hand on my shoulder. A revitalised approach to education will prove to the steroid shot we need to rip that hand from our shoulder. Forever.
I passionately believe that the way to achieve this is to give everyone the same opportunities and to encourage them to work hard to achieve their goals.
Prediction: Labour minority propped up by SNP and Liberal Democrat support in some form of a vote by vote basis.
Voting intention: In Scotland I believe the SNP offer the best chance of us eventually heading towards this wooly liberal utopia I dream of.