The Labour Party must promote the idea of universal welfare, even for the aspiring classes. The welfare system will not survive without a broad coalition of support
Johann Hari said yesterday on UK Uncut’s blog that Philip Green, owner of TopShop (amongst other businesses), was “sponging off the state” by avoiding £300m of income tax – and suggested we should stop providing taxpayer-funded services to branches of TopShop, until Mr Green was aware of exactly how much his business had depended on them. 77% of Britons, apparently, support clamping down on tax avoidance.
At the same time, the Social Attitudes Survey reveals that UK voters are more anti-welfare and anti-redistribution than at any time since the 1980s.
Hari reminded me of a conversation I once had with a Salford barber (which I had to quickly abandon, for fear of him shaving something embarrassing into my hair) when Labour proposed the 50% tax. He was certainly never going to earn anything like the £150,000 he would need to start paying the new tax level – but if he had got to that level all through his own hard work, risk-taking and entrepreneurial skills (and never ‘sponged off the state’ by claiming benefits, mind), he would be bloody annoyed if the Government were going to any more of it away from him.