There’s pretty much nothing about Labour’s latest fearmongering anti-independence leaflet (revealed exclusively by us on Tuesday night) that doesn’t make us facepalm.
The only difficult thing is deciding which aspect is the most idiotic.
The sub-editor in us, for example, wants to roll it up tightly into a sharp point and ram it into their eyeballs, earholes and anywhere else we can think of for an especially moronic use of what’s already the world’s most hideous boil on the face of typography – the screamingly cretinous US invention known as “title case”, in which words are capitalised more or less at random.
Johann Lamont used to be an English teacher – God save us all – so we’d love to hear her explain why the words “Means”, “You”, “Schools”, “Cut Tax” and many more in that leaflet have capital letters. They’re not the titles of anything, they’re not proper nouns, and they’re not at the start of sentences.
But that’s just a personal bugbear of ours, and one that’s commonly perpetrated by mouth-breathing dimwits the globe over, not just Scottish Labour. Rather more importantly, the tiny document manages to also pack in a considerable degree of economic, factual and political illiteracy.
The economic part is that – obviously – no government cuts Corporation Tax with the intention of having less money in its coffers. The policy may or may not work in any given individual set of circumstances, but its intended effect is always to generate more inward investment, which leads to more employment, which leads to a lower welfare bill and more consumer spending, which leads to growth, all of which (more than) offsets the reduced Corporation Tax receipts.
So to portray a proposed cut in Corporation Tax as meaning less money for the NHS and schools is not only dishonest but insultingly dishonest. We very much doubt that voters are stupid enough to imagine that the SNP really wants to have less money to spend on schools. How would that be in the SNP’s interests?
Then there’s the logical illiteracy, which manifests in several ways. Firstly, the idea that there’d be less money for the NHS and schools even if personal taxation had been increased. You can get people to believe that services will be cut if their taxes go down, or to accept that they can only get better services by paying more tax, but telling them they’ll pay more tax AND see their services slashed is treating the electorate as gullible simpletons.
Next up is factual illiteracy. A reduction in Corporation Tax would be for ALL businesses, not just large ones. It would create no advantage for large companies over small ones that doesn’t exist now. It would also have no inherent impact whatsoever on the size of bankers’ bonuses, because the bonuses of senior executives rarely have any relationship to the profits of the companies involved.
And finally, there’s the political illiteracy. The reverse of the leaflet describes the SNP policy as “right-wing economics”. So we can logically assume that Labour politicians, and especially Scottish ones, would have no truck with such things, right?
“We have cut corporation tax twice and I want to go further. We will reduce the tax again when we are able.”
Wait, which insane right-wing economist determined to divert money from the NHS and schools to bankers’ bonuses and big business said that? Well, naturally it was Gordon Brown, speaking to the Institute Of Directors at the Royal Albert Hall in April 2008.
If you were wondering, the financial crisis had already been going for the best part of a year at that point. The “run” on Northern Rock took place in September 2007, and the bank was taken into public ownership the following February, months before Brown’s speech. But a Labour Prime Minister was still proud of having reduced Corporation Tax twice, and promising to do it again as soon as possible.
So we’re not quite sure what’s turned cutting Corporation Tax from a proud, socialist, progressive, redistributive policy into an evil, right-wing one aimed at hammering the poor. We’ve asked several Labour figures, but they’ve all been a bit too busy to explain. If you know any, get them to tell you and then pass it on to us, would you?