Pensioners would be hit by Leonard’s tax on wealthy
Richard Leonard: call for levy on wealthiest Scots (pic: Terry Murden)
Pensioners would be among the hardest hit by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard’s proposed windfall tax on the wealthiest Scots, according to the SNP.
Mr Leonard used his conference speech at the party’s Liverpool conference to propose a 1% levy on Scotland’s wealthiest 10% which he claims would raise £3.7bn.
The SNP said official figures show that 49% of those affected are pensioner households and described Mr Leonard’s proposal as ‘half-baked’.
Mr Leonard told Labour delegates: “In Scotland today the richest one per cent own more personal wealth than the whole of the poorest 50 per cent put together.
“So instead of a fervent devotion to inequality from the Tories, and timidity and mediocrity from the Nationalists, it is time for moral courage and audacity from Labour. Which is why I have said that the time has come to consider a wealth tax.
“A one per cent windfall tax on Scotland’s wealthiest 10 per cent would raise £3.7billion to invest in public services.”
SNP MSP Bruce Crawford commented: “Scottish Labour have had a terrible conference – with Richard Leonard trying to out-Tory the Tories on the democratic right of the people of Scotland to decide their future. That is a ridiculous and untenable for Labour to be in and shows just how irrelevant they now are.
“Labour’s plan for a one-off tax are completely half-baked. Half of those hit by this £3.7 billion tax bill would be pensioners – for whom having a house does not necessarily mean having a high income.
“For many of those would be hit, their ‘wealth’ could be little more than their home and pension. How is Richard Leonard expecting those pensioners to afford a one-off tax bill?
“The SNP have made serious, progressive reforms to our tax system, which see those on higher incomes paying a fairer share. Rather than more half-baked plans for Labour or reheated proposals of federalism-some-day, we should take full controls over tax and welfare in Scotland to continue to tackle inequality.”
‘Class not nationalism divides society’
Mr Leonard also attacked calls for Scottish independence, saying: “We should stop dividing people on the basis of nationality and start uniting them on the basis of class.
“The real division in our society is not between Scotland and England, it is between those people who own the wealth and those people who through their hard work and endeavour create the wealth. That is the real division.”
He said Labour has unfinished business on land reform. “Labour abolished feudalism in the first term of the Scottish Parliament, but twenty years later we are still living with feudal ownership, with four hundred and thirty-two private landowners still owning a half of all privately owned land in Scotland,” he said.
“And with ownership comes power. We need land justice because our earth is a common treasury.”
He said workers should have the statutory right to buy the enterprise they work in when it is put up for sale or facing closure.
“Why on earth shouldn’t the people who create the wealth own the wealth that they create? We need more planning and less market.”
He demanded a rebalancing of support given to companies investing in creating jobs.
“We will overhaul Regional Selective Assistance and reform public procurement, to support local industries and home-grown businesses, so that never again do we see factories and fabrication yards standing idle, whilst offshore wind farms in UK inshore waters paid for by public money and energy user levies are built in factories and yards overseas.”