To some Labour Party members Owen Smith might look like a more electable alternative to Jeremy Corbyn, especially after June when the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) held a vote of no confidence in their leader revealing he only had the support of 40 of his own MP’s. However, Smith’s policies would do very little to help elect a Labour government in 2020 and would cause untold damage to the rights of the individual; particularly the right to spend your own money how you see fit.
The idea of an ‘Inheritance Tax’ is abhorrent as it is, a perfect example of government overstepping its mark and kicking a man while he’s down. The last thing any grieving family wants, no matter how ‘rich’ they might appear, is for a large cut of their family’s inheritance to be assumed by the state. Whilst most conservatives like me would hope to move away from this backwards and nasty tax, Owen Smith has other plans. Like every period of Labour government this country has been through, Smith wants to roll out the frontiers of the state and has promised to reverse the cuts George Osborne made to inheritance tax while he was still Chancellor. This regressive move would also be followed by a rise in corporation tax. That should definitely be attractive for investors and businesses, right…?
Throw in Smith’s plan to raise the highest level of income tax back up to 50% and suddenly taxes are back to what they were during the Blair/Brown years. The idea behind his 50% tax rate is that it forces millionaires to pay their fair share, regardless of the fact that this rate would set in at income earned over £150,000 for the year. Someone earning £150,000 a year currently will only take home roughly £90,000 of that after income tax and National Insurance payments, being blistered by the current top tier of 45%. While Owen Smith might feel that they’re earning enough to be considered a millionaire, no one with any actual sense of money would.
Smith also plans to implement a ‘wealth tax’ on the ‘richest 1%’ of 15% on income earned through dividends, rents and any other investments. He speculates that this will bring in an extra £2.8bn for the Treasury, a drop in the ocean compared to the extra £200bn in spending he’s promised. With taxes rising and bureaucracy swelling, the state would inevitably begin to tread on individual liberty. The first policy listed on his site is “a pledge to focus on equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity”, which isn’t explained any further unfortunately. It’s safe to say though that this would likely involve many other liberty threatening policies and taxes in order to enforce ‘equality of outcome’.
Zero-hours contracts will be outlawed under Smith’s attempt to use the state to fix everyone’s financial problems, ignoring evidence that most people on zero-hours contracts don’t actually want more hours anyway. Worry not though because Smith has thought this through and decided that it should be a ‘minimum-hours’ contract which workers are offered, even though this could mean being slumped with a one hour per week contract. When pointed out to Smith he replied “It could be one, but I’m saying it shouldn’t be zero”. Needless to say you’d be better off working on a more flexible zero-hours contract rather than a single hour a week being guaranteed.
Thankfully Owen Smith doesn’t seem to have any realistic chance of becoming Prime Minister, considering he first has to beat Jeremy Corbyn to become Labour leader. Like most Socialists, he enjoys banging on the anti-Tory drum and hitting out at every policy or action that could be considered even remotely conservative in nature, and like most Socialists he also doesn’t seem to have the foggiest of how to actually fix any of the problems. His policies, along with Jeremy Corbyn’s plans, would lead to economic hell for the taxpayer, the business owner and even the lowest paid worker in the country.