Coffee House

Nigel Farage’s tax flip-flop shows us where he’s trying to take his party

2 May 2013

2 May 2013

We might this week have seen some scrutiny of UKIP candidates, but so far we’ve seen little scrutiny of their policies. But the better the party does, the more policy scrutiny it will start to come under.

This is what makes UKIP’s changing tax policy so interesting. It tells us a lot about where Nigel Farage is trying to take his party.

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At the last election, UKIP was committed to a flat tax. There is an intellectual purity to this idea – see Allister Heath’s book on the subject – but it is hard to sell to voters as it would result in ‘the rich’ paying a lower rate.

After Eastleigh, both the Lib Dems and Labour latched on to it as a way of attacking Farage. They both claimed that the flat tax showed UKIP wasn’t really for the little guy but for the wealthy. The result: Farage moving to dump the policy.

On Tuesday he told me that he now favoured a two band system, with one set at 40p, because ‘that is seen to be fairer. Whether that’s right or not, I think it’s seen to be fairer’.  What strikes me as significant about this is that Farage is conceding that he’s changing the policy for appearances’ sake. He went on to say ‘you don’t want to have policies that distract from your main objectives in life’.

In South Shields on Tuesday night, Farage regularly said to the crowd that while they might not agree on the details of economic or business policy, they could agree that it should be set here. But if UKIP really is going to become a major political force, it is going to have to have an actual policy prospectus. The challenge for Farage will be keeping together his economically diverse bunch of voters once he set out his ideas in any detail.


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  • thanksdellingpole

    He said he’d vet every immigrant since 1997 and ban the burka and halal food, where have those policies gone?

  • James

    Fib/Lie/Con empire have coulrophobia.

  • Daniel Maris

    UKIP’s main policy should be to give power to the British people through a referendum system. Even if they only last 3 months, that would be a wonderful gift to bestow on the nation because no party would dare take back the people’s power.

  • Daniel Maris

    There is a contradiction in inherent in UKIP’s approach.

    They oppose mass immigration and the Eurostate. But when it comes to economics they seem to be cheerleaders for globalising capitalism.

    Flat rate income tax is actually a good idea, but you can’t have that as a policy unless it is built into a much wider programme of tax reform (which won’t be easy and which must involve a much higher property tax).

    Pragmatically speaking, the next best thing would be a flexi-rate income tax rising and falling according to income.

    • HookesLaw

      But is flat rate tax good idea? Is there anything wrong with the richer people paying a higher rate than the poorer. What is wrong with edging people into the tax paying bracket?
      Lower taxes would be nice. And broadly speaking lower spending needs to come with that. But as soon as spending cuts come in a whole range of other people start complaining. Thats why once the spending genie is out of the bottle its hard to put back.

      What we see here is Farage changing his mind, and moving from one made up policy to another, and UKIPers defending the flat tax policy and defending Farage for changing his mind at the same time.

      • Zanatos

        I think there is a problem with richer people paying a higher rate than poorer simply as becoming richer isnt free. You pay for that with in essence your life. I have friends who are deemed “poorer” who work 9-5 yet have loads of free time to enjoy themselves, and on the other hand I have friends who are deemed “richer” who work 7 day weeks and work from 9-9. So way I see it is if someone decides to put in that extra work why shouldn`t they be allowed to keep the extra rewards? The principle of taxing rich more seems to suggest that working hard and long hours and maybe risking everything to set your own company up are not good goals. The example set is do little as you get stung less.

        There is also the flip side that a lower tax rate would prob bring in more money. For the extremely rich, most avoid tax largely due to the massively over inflated rates, by lowering the rate the amount paying it increases. This has been proven in other countries.

        The economy would also gain greatly as people will have more money in there pocket, thus be able to get out of debt, spend more and help other companies grow. Currently a lot of peoples wages goes on tax, bills and food. The only companies gaining our the massive ones. This results in a few having a lot and many having little. If people had more money in the pocket to actually be able to afford to spend you would see a lot more cash going into local shops etc.

        Then there is the reason why this wont ever happen dispite it being a good idea for which helps everyone. People get jealous of the rich and so hate them without even knowing them, yet oddly still buy a lotto ticket clearly wanting to be rich themselves. The masses love to hate anyone rich and dont need any logical reason for it so trying to get through such a good idea will prob never happen as you will not get enough votes in. The result is a policy change.

        • HookesLaw

          With VAT at 20% then the broad downside is indeed less assuming that people spend their new tax free wages.

          The’ masses’ (me included) create rich people – they do it all the time. They pay the wages of film stars and footballers etc. I believe that the rich are broadly accepted – its how the rich chose to spend their money that is sometimes annoying.

          I would add that I would like the tax rates to be lower irrespective of there being two bands. And the allowances should be higher. My tax bands in fact would be 18 28 and 38%. Assuming the economy could support it. The aim would be to make life a lot easier for the broad middle class but the snag is they are the only big group with meaningful amounts of money.
          Indeed I would possibly have taxes lower but have higher NIC payments to truly reflect the cost of health and welfare.

          So broadly I do not accept your proposition. I see nothing intrinsically wrong with a 2 tier system and UKIPers defending the now non-UKIP possible policy are being as ever hysteical.

          • Zanatos

            While us masses may create rich people we also gain the luxury of time which is priceless. Of course it has to be noted each case will be different from the next and thus some rich people will have got there with little work while other poor people have done loads of work, although in principle if you do lots of work you shouldn`t be poor unless you have holes in your pocket.

            I don`t see why someone with money can`t spend it as they please. There are many poorer people who still spend it on ciggies. Surely that is a very bad use of money for rich or poor. The point being if thats how they want to spend the money they earn`t so be it, it is there money and in turn the rich should be granted the same freedom.

            I think the big question is is it workable to have just one flat rate? The idea in theory is a great one, but reality also has to play a role in this. I think without any of us (including UKIP) actually seeing the books in detail you can`t really work out if we will be able to afford a flat rate or not. It is currently just a idea. One which might work or might not, therefore a risky idea. Lowering the tax rate back down to 40% would maybe be a good start place. Less risk, and works good as a trial.

            Spending cuts would be needed to help make this work, but cutting many benifits would help aid this. Currently there is no logic in a system which gives more money to someone not working than someone working. I mean you almost have to be dumb (I am clearly) to go to work.

            The new lower rate of £500 a week max benifits works out at £26k a year. That is more money than a lot of people earn working full time. That has to change. I don`t know how much would be saved from reducing that, but its one area that would be a good start. There are many other areas of massive waste too.

            So as stated, UKIP has some good ideas, just are they to big a risk to try?

        • Fergus Pickering

          Your argument might have some traction if all, or even most, rich people worked hard. But that is not true. Many of them do not work at all.

  • peterbuss

    Steady on- this is the UKIP poicy on tax for today. Ti be hionest the term “clowns” is probably being rather kind to Farage. He just makes it up as he goes along.

    • starfish

      A bit like cameron and milliband then

  • AnotherDaveB

    The Direct Democracy platform would work well for UKIP. It’s designed to increase democratic accountability. No Tory/Labour bias to worry about.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/5329377/My_plan_to_rescue_Britain_in_just_12_months/

    • Makroon

      Yeah, we’ve had the postal voting scam, which hasn’t quite managed to bring democracy down, so why not try the Direct Democracy idiocy, that should reduce the country to anarchy in no time at all.

      • Daniel Maris

        We need Swiss style referendum democracy so we can have a say in the big issues that affect us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

    I hope Farage pledges to double student Tuition Fees because then he would abolish them in Government. Isn’t that how the Conservatives and LibDems found policy truth after manifesto lies ?

    • HookesLaw

      Tuition fees came from a report commissioned by Labour, and the Coalitions policies adapted the proposals to make it actually cheaper for poorer students.

      The tory manifesto actually said this
      ‘consider carefully the results of Lord Browne’s review into the future of higher education funding, so that we can unlock the potential of universities to transform our economy,’

      So the onloyn lies come from you. OK, well i am too harsh – its all hysteria really isnt it?

  • Smithersjones2013

    But if UKIP really is going to become a major political force, it is going to have to have an actual policy prospectus.

    Now this childish spinning is really getting tiresome. Are all journalists so internet illiterate they are incapable of finding the UKIP policy site? I suspect they will find more of a prospectus there if they bother to look than they will on any of the establishment party’s sites. What is Labour’s prospectus for 2015 (still a blank piece of paper pretty much?) or the Libdems or the Conservatives (they are having trouble putting together a Queen’s Speech of any substance for this coming year I believe?)?

    Did any of them have such full policy prospectuses in 2008. No

    So the argument about how essential it is for UKIP to have a policy portfolio now (seemingly because politico journalists are bored excrementless with picking holes in the tedious drivel coming out of Westminster and want something to do that is more fun) is exceedingly thin.particularly as any detailed policy now would likely be out of date by 2015.

    Its so sad journalists haven’t got anything worthwhile to write about but sadly more than anything that is down to how dull and tedious the Coalition have become in recent months. At least Brown’s Government kept us entertained.

    PS And since when has a prospectus in opposition ever provided any real semblance of what a party do in Government (“no plans for a VAT rise” – yeah right). Cameron even foisted the Libdems on us after spending years denouncing coalitions for god sake……..

    • HookesLaw

      Thank you for exposing what a nutty cultist lot you UKIPers are. Words mean what you want them to mean, left is right, up is down, inside is out, black is white (oh well perhaps we will forget that one). Farage says jump and you ask how high.
      Deluded. At least we know where all the surviving Branch Davidians ended up.

      As for journalists being ‘incapable of finding the UKIP policy site’ well if they found it they would find this immigration policy
      ‘UKIP Immigration Policy is currently undergoing a review and update. The full policy will be published in due course.’
      Tax?
      ‘The following is a suggested Tax Proposal, not a party policy, from UKIP’s Godfrey Bloom MEP’

      • Colonel Mustard

        It doesn’t matter much. The main appeal is that they are not Cameron, Milibandwagon or Clegg, the three horsemen of the Eurocalypse determined to stuff this country to the gunnels with foreigners.

        • HookesLaw

          The main appeal is that they are thick?
          Your attitudes display you as massively irrational. Cameron has broken no promises and the govt despite the dead weight of the lib dems has achieved a lot.
          For one instance thousands of public sector jobs lost.

          • echo34

            Are you seriously trying to state that cameron, clegg and miliband are not thick?

            • HookesLaw

              Cameron is not thick. He has for instance put a law through parliament making any transfer of power to the EU subject to a referendum. He wants to renegotiate terms with the EU and put it to a referendum.

              But the claim that is being made that UKIPs appeal is that they are not anybody else is effectively saying UKIP are simply empty of anything and indeed that the electorate are thick for being interested.

              • Colonel Mustard

                No, the appeal is not that they are not “anybody else”, it is precisely that they are not the party led by one of The Three Stooges of the EU.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Er, no. When one writes that the main appeal is a negative that does not mean that the extent of thickness or otherwise of UKIP is a factor at all. I’ve just watched a wonderful edition of Question Time where the BBC stitched up alleged misogynist David Starkey by putting him on with a panel of women – Williams, Harmon, Greening and Coren – and that old woman Dimbleby of course. Greening was terrible.

            • Fergus Pickering

              But with one bound David was free. Surely gay chaps are rarely misogynist. It’s hetero chaps who are misogynist. Not YOU of course, Colonel. Or me, come to that.

  • Julian_F

    “But if UKIP really is going to become a major political force, it is going to have to have an actual policy prospectus.”

    Might not the same be said of the Labour Party?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Indeed. I wish the media were as vigilant in scrutinising Labour’s policies as they are in scrutinising the Tories and UKIP.

      • telemachus

        Yes please
        Scrutinise the 5 point plan
        And urge appropriate action on Osborne

        • Colonel Mustard

          The 5 point plan is so silly it does not require scrutiny. Borrow more now so we can borrow less in the future, maybe. Cut VAT but pay for it – er – somehow. Keep looking for that “gusto” telemachus.

          • telemachus

            Those with economic nous will see that the exponential growth consequent on the stimulated growth will bring the direct taxes rolling in ad the deficit will come rocketing down

            • Colonel Mustard

              Or not…

            • Fergus Pickering

              I love that ‘exponential’ Got any more big words for us? What about ‘exogenous’. Gordon liked that one. And then there’s ‘extraterrestrial’. Useful when taking about the Eds.

        • Fergus Pickering

          The what? Tell us about this five point plan. It appears even Red Ed doesn’t know about it.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    A tax flip flop? Excellent! just like the big boys – the only difference being that with UKIP large parts of the (toxic) electorate are guaranteed to get some policies they like.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shaun.banham Shaun Banham

    The point is the rich are not paying 50% or even 45%, There are so many holes in our tax system as was highlighted last year with jimmy carr paying only 10% . Russia introduced a flat tax rate and the revenues from personal incomes rose 65|% in the first 3 years.

    • HookesLaw

      Tax evasion in Russia was rife
      http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/uocp-ssr061609.php

      “The adoption of a flat rate income tax is not expected to lead to
      significant increases in tax revenues because the productivity response
      is shown to be fairly small. However, if the economy is plagued by
      ubiquitous tax evasion, as was the case in Russia, the flat rate income
      tax reform can lead to substantial revenue gains via increases in
      voluntary compliance.”

      Russia has a social welfare contribution on top of income taxes of 26%. Plus contributions of pensions on top.
      This is in fact the opposite of UKIPs policy (at the time of writing) which is to combine NI and Tax.

    • thanksdellingpole

      Try explaining that to morons.

  • PeterA5145

    Umm, surely a flat tax means that the rich pay the same percentage rate as the less well off, but more in absolute terms. And, since there will be a tax-free band too, the rich will also pay slightly more as a percentage of their income.

    • HookesLaw

      Tell that to Farage. But come on do get with the programme – didn’t you know the sun shines out of Farage’s backside? He is holy he is pure he speaks the received wisdom. He is more infallible than the pope. You will have to get all your excuses better organised than this.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        Have you voted already ?

        • HookesLaw

          Has this bloke voted?

          ‘A UKIP candidate is spending election day not campaigning but on holiday in Thailand. David Watson is standing in Basingstoke on a promise to put ‘Britain first’.
          But as voters go to the polls he is 6,000 miles, boasting on Facebook about relaxing by a swimming pool.’
          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2318309/UKIP-candidate-Dave-Watson-boasts-Facebook-spending-election-day-THAILAND.html

          And being a typical UKIP candidate, not only has he not taken his wife – his Thai wife, who no doubt knows how to clean behind the fridge – his wife does not actually know where he is.

          But then if you are a bloke – who cares? Certainly not yer UKIP bloke.

          Oh and ‘stop press’ (From the Mail)
          ‘A UKIP member allegedly posted anti-Muslim jokes and a picture of Barrack Obama mocked up to look like a chimp, it emerged today.’
          and
          ‘Today it emerged Christopher Thorpe, a UKIP candidate in Hertfordshire, was forced to resign as a police officer after he was caught working as a male escort in full uniform.’

          • Colonel Mustard

            Should fit right in with the rest of the misfits in parliament then.

      • Smithersjones2013

        You are sounding rather tetchy today. Bad news from the polling stations?

        • HookesLaw

          Yes… I’m tetchy in a, ‘Now this childish spinning is really getting tiresome / so sad journalists haven’t got anything worthwhile to write about ‘ kind of way.

      • Magnolia

        Dave’s the one that tells us to “get with the programme”.

      • Fergus Pickering

        You can’t be more or les infallible, old son. You either are or yor aren’t. The Pope is infallible by definition. Nige is fallible like the rest of us. But amusing and intelligent with it.

    • Makroon

      Farage described the “two-tier tax rate”, basically what we have had for many years, as a “two-tier flat tax”.

    • thanksdellingpole

      Try explaining that to idiots.

  • Austin Barry

    “But if UKIP really is going to become a major political force, it is going to have an actual policy prospectus.”

    Indeed, but we’re currently ruled by a coalition where both sets of conspirators were ‘elected’ on a false prospectus.

    Better to work on an evolving set of policies, particularly when you’re a relatively nascent political force, than to con the electorate with lies, half-promises and sudden inventions like supporting gay marriage.

    • Archimedes

      Ha! This is exactly what UKIP has done. Their opposition to gay marriage was a half-promise, sudden intervention to peel off support from the Conservative party. They don’t care about gay marriage. The only policy that UKIP has is exit from the EU, and they will use whatever other policy they can to stir up support for that, regardless of what the fallout on society is. So they will flip-flop all over the place, and lie and cajole their way to whatever power it is that they can get their hands on.

      • HookesLaw

        Something tells me you are wasting your breath.
        The other tax policy is one of combining income tax and NI, which would penalise the self employed.

        • realfish

          …and presumably, pensioners who don’t pay NI

          • HookesLaw

            Tax is not the greatest issue for most pensioners. This govt have of course taken many out of the tax net.
            UKIPers do not base their attitudes on rationality.

            • Zanatos

              The greatest issue for most pensioners is the shocking state of social care, and how the CQC (how do they even still exist?) gives excellent ratings to companies who they only inspect once a year. The massive amount of hoops needed to jump through to gain a lisense to provide care now means the old hats who provide bad levels of care go untouched as no one dares shut them down for fear there there being no providers.

              • Fergus Pickering

                I m a pensioner and I currently don’t give a damn about social care. Of course that might change.

      • Smithersjones2013

        Well perhaps Farage should take advice from the current expert in flip-flopping and u-turns?

        The EU Referendum Bill won’t appear in Parliament any time soon

        http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2013/05/the-eu-referendum-bill-wont-appear-in-parliament-any-time-soon/

        He we yet had Cameron’s final version of his relationship with Rebecca Wade’s horse yet?

        • Archimedes

          Uh-huh. Well. There it is.

        • HookesLaw

          No one has said it would appear this parliament.

          But never mind you are reduced to horses.

        • Makroon

          Nige is far too busy having cosy dinners with Murdoch to worry about borrowed horses.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Dinners with the digger. Excellent news.

      • Makroon

        Nope.
        Exit from the EU is the aspiration, xenophobia is the mood-music, but the only “policy”, is to get Farage to a position where he can wreak more mischief, like the nasty, arrested-development, schoolboy that he is.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Would we have been xenophobic resisting a German invasion in 1940?

          • HookesLaw

            What an absurd comment. what is telling is that you clearly have no idea how absurd it is.

            xenophobia – ‘deep-rooted, irrational hatred towards foreigners’

            • Colonel Mustard

              I have every idea how absurd it is – that is precisely why I made it and your response is the epitome of the ignorance and crass manipulation of language that serves as “debate” these days.

              Your definition of xenophobia is the modern left-wing construction specifically designed to cow the English to acquiesce in their enforced replacement so I’m surprised that you, as a supposed conservative, are peddling it.

              Xenophobia is more correctly the irrational or unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. Derives from the Greek ξένος (xenos) “stranger” or “foreigner,” and φόβος (phobos) “fear.”

              Except in the case of modern Britain the fear is neither irrational nor unreasoned. You might like being governed by a load of foreigners gathered in a foreign city but I don’t much. Now, having got that out of the way, do I need to explain to you the difference between fear, dislike and hatred in the English language?

              • dalai guevara

                ‘Being governed by a load of foreigners gathered in a foreign city’ – again, you are spot on.

                When will Londoners finally admit that they do not give a jot about the regions in their self-centred determination to widen the gap.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  I meant Brussels but true enough that they have a branch office in London.

            • thanksdellingpole

              Every culture should, otherwise we end up being a minority in our own Capital City as we are right now.

              Tolerance is a weakness, don’t be afraid to stand up for your country and its culture.

            • Fergus Pickering

              I think an irrational hatred of foreigners is the way to go. It’s the way their eyes look and the jabbering sounds they make when they talk.

          • thanksdellingpole

            He only likes the word because it’s over seven letters and has an “x” in it.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Oh come sir. Abuse has to be amusing to pass muster.

      • dalai guevara

        Exactly – splendid isolation, yet without the convenience of a back bone of colonies. It is a recipe for disaster.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Ridiculous. We are already living in a disaster. We don’t need a recipe or to worry about one.

          • dalai guevara

            Splendid colonel, splendid.
            A disaster caused neither by the EU nor immigrants, but these are now your targets.
            I would have thought of you as a more forthright thinker.

            • Colonel Mustard

              Those are not my “targets” and the attempted intellectual snobbery is misplaced.

      • Fergus Pickering

        I’m glad they don’t care about gay marriage. I promised them my fifteen quid if they told me just that, that they didn’t care. Everythingn else that you say is true of all parties in a democracy.

    • telemachus

      Agree Austin
      Mattereth not what they say
      The key is that enough former Tories will vote for them in Tory marginal to ensure a famous victory for reason in 2015
      It is a major source of regret to me that I am not a retriever owner from the Shires and was denied an opportunity to vote UKIP today

      • Gaverne

        In other words: vote UKIP, get Labour.

        • telemachus

          Exactly
          I will campaign with all my gusto

          • Colonel Mustard

            First time I’ve heard it called ‘gusto’. I’ll have to remember that.

        • alexsandr

          pity the tories are splitting the UKIP vote really

      • Colonel Mustard

        An infamous victory for proven charlatans and reason will not come within a million mile of anything they do.

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