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‘Taxes, Taxes, Beautiful, Lovely Taxes!’

With similarities to Walt Disney’s depiction of King John in their 1973 animated take on Robin Hood, the Conservative government are raising taxes.

As inflation crusades through the land, decimating incomes and fuelling industrial clashes, tax hikes are at the very bottom of everyone’s wish list – contenders for the top spots are probably a flight from Heathrow, a GP appointment or a ride on a train. The UK is currently in a dire state (really? I hardly noticed, says the holidaymaker standing in a queue for the luggage they lost in Heathrow two days ago) and its familiar territory for battle-hardened Britons.

In 1978, Blighty endured the ‘winter of discontent’ with strikes, shortages, inflation and divisions within the government leading to some of the darkest economic days in living memory (we are about to break our record). Currently, I expect the mood of the people cannot be adequately expressed by just the word ‘discontented’. Comparisons are being drawn between our present situation and those fateful days almost fifty years ago, and how today, we face rail strikes, 9% inflation, and a looming recession. Discontented, to say the least. So, we are in a for a bumpy ride, so get comfortable, turn the heati- wait, you can’t do that, it’ll bankrupt you. Go for a nice holid- no wait you can’t do that either.

The ride has got even bumpier considering we do not have a driver, and when it seems like we are about to see some direction, we realise that the people in whom we have installed our trust are incapable of the leadership we need. Just as energy bills and extraordinary inflation squeeze household incomes, our Conservative government raise taxes. As if this was uncharacteristic for a Conservative government, a tax hike will be the last nail in the coffin for many households, and the final gold coin in the Treasury’s coffers.

Everyone is angry. The UK is about to face the biggest railway strike in thirty years, with the RMT union leading the charge aiming for better pay and conditions for workers. Wasn’t anything done to prevent this? A fine question indeed, fair reader, a fine one indeed. After great reluctance to intervene, Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, staged last-minute talks to try and prevent the strikes from taking place. The result? Failure. It is quite understandable that the workers are angry, but I doubt commuters will be willing to sacrifice the nation’s network for their grievances, workers who[TB2] , according to the Transport Secretary, earn, on average, £44,000 a year.

As if we needed another reminder of how incompetent our government is, when it not too long ago emerged that the Prime Minister and other Downing Street colleagues had been fined for partying whilst the nation was lockdown-ing, the public were furious, and so were some Conservative MPs (148 to be exact). Cheesed, Wined, and Fined. But following the result of the recent vote of confidence in Boris Johnson’s leadership in the Conservative party, we are unlikely to see any change in direction any time soon.

Returning to the subject of taxation, beautiful, lovely things. The Adam Smith Institute, whose Tax Freedom Day data pinpoint when in the year the average worker’s earnings stop going towards the Treasury and to their own pockets, estimate that taxpayers work 159 days just to pay their taxes. The Institute also says that ‘the rising cost of living cannot be effectively tackled without a growing economy underpinned by low taxes’ (Hear! Hear!). This year’s Tax Freedom Day is the latest since the 1980s, with UK taxpayer contributions making up 43.29% of net national income.

There is no doubt that the current railway strikes will prove to be a major issue for the workers, employers, and the economy as a whole. Economists fear a wage-price spiral, whereby wage increases only stoke the fires of inflation, exacerbating our already giant problem.

These economic commentators do have their work cut out, there is a lot to commentate on after all, and with a looming recession and soaring inflation, the public have something to say about it too. I believe the mood can be summarised with the following: any government managing the country in this way deserves to be shown the door, especially a government that defies its core ideals of low taxation and stability. Britain is looking woebegone.


Edited and Reviewed by Tanish Bagga.


References/Wider Reading

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