Ending the anomaly of the City Corporation

An interesting way to deal with that residual business vote in the City Corporation:

Businesses pay taxes in the form of corporation tax (£48bn), local business rates (£25bn) and employer National Insurance Contributions (£55bn) but have no say in the running of local or national government. It\’s taxation without representation.

It\’s an interesting thought certainly.

There is something that amuses about the whole situation as well. The way in which certain people can hold two directly contradictory ideas.

The left (OK, perhaps certain particularly vocal pieces of the left) seem to be most against the business franchise. Yet it is those same people who insist that it actually is \”business\” that pays those particular taxes.

We can also see it from the other side: myself for example. I\’m rather in favour of the business franchise, for local govt at least. But I\’m also one who screams loudly enough that employers\’ NI is really paid by the workers in lower wages, corporation tax by the workers and shareholders in some proportion. That is, that business itself does\’t bear the incidence of these taxes.

Which leaves us all rather confused really. Those insisting that those who really do pay taxes shouldn\’t have representation and those who agree that they\’re not really paying taxes quite happy for them to have the vote.

I would claim moral and logical superiority for myself not only because I am indeed Tim Worstall but also because I am aware of this oddity, something I seriously doubt M\’Lord Glasman et al are.

11 comments on “Ending the anomaly of the City Corporation

  1. I’m rather in favour of the business franchise, for local govt at least.

    So really what you are in favour of is something other than one man one vote, where people get to vote based on where they live. Any vote given to a business will ultimately be case by a person, after all.

    Not necessarily a bad thing,

  2. I’d guess the Left would be keener on businesses having a vote if the business’s vote was decided by its workers rather than its CEO.

  3. Shinsei67

    Like what happens now, then? Except instead of having the workers tell the bosses who to vote for, they vote themselves.

    If they got a second vote then the left would not like it at all.. as that would be giving more votes to people with jobs than people without jobs, which would, obviously, be biased against the ‘most vulnerable ™’ of society.

    I’ve always seen the contradiction that Tim highlights as my reason for having no desire whatsoever to see companies given a formal say in the democratic process. They may, and do, gather together to form bodies to represent their interests. That will do for me.

  4. One man one vote is simply socialism in potentia as Sir Terry might put it. Once you have the former, you are bound to have the latter.

  5. If we really wanted to stick to the “no taxation without representation” thing, then the easiest way to do it would be to abolish all taxes and instead sell votes. That’s probably not going to go down all that well though…

    Another way of reading it would be that those who are not net taxpayers shouldn’t get a vote. I don’t suppose that would be appreciated either though.

    What I’d really like to see is all taxation abolished except a simple flat-rate income tax. This would not be dealt with by PAYE, but instead everyone would get a bill each year, so you’d see just how much our crappy government is costing. If you want to get complex, this is best combined with a flat rate Citizen’s Income, paid for out of the taxation – and alongside which you can abolish most benefits.

  6. I’m with Tim on tax incidence, but that leads me to be against him on corporate votes; after all, a company is run by people, who presumably, will vote – at least partially – in the interests of those organizations of which they are invested. Democracy incidence, if you like…

  7. Plural voting was common until it was mostly abolished in 1948.

    You could have one vote for each place where you lived, one where you had your business (although only for sole traders and partners, not for companies), and graduates got another one for their university MP.

    Restoring the university MPs is another broken Tory election promise.

  8. It would be sensible to at least give workers the option to vote where they work rather than where they live, much as students do today.

  9. May I suggest a good old British compromise?
    How about we have an elected institution (lets call it the house of commons) whose members are elected by individual people and no-one else, no businesses, no charities, no religious authorities, just individual people
    And lets have another body chosen from individual businesses and other bodies of current power and influence (lets call it the house of Lords)
    It used to work well in the days when the title Lord denoted current power rather than the favour of government or past power.
    Perhaps it could work again?

  10. Pat has a point but I prefer proportional representation at the local level: your vote counts as a proportion of the local tax you pay.

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