Makes me wonder about my own support for the Mirrlees Review. For Willy is indeed a normally perfect indicator of what not to do. But perhaps this is his stopped clock moment.
In fact, the outlines of what such a reforming chancellor might do were recently set out in an extraordinary review of the tax system led by Sir James Mirrlees of Cambridge University for the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Published last autumn after nearly five years\’ work, it has received far less attention than it deserves since it is the most comprehensive and devastating indictment of the current situation.
This is actually a very useful description of politics as it actually works. Not as it ought to, but as it does.
We have two sets of alternative proposals about how we ought to reform the tax system. One has been composed by a Nobel Laureate (one whose Nobel was awarded largely for his studies of tax systems), has taken 5 years to complete and is comprehensive.
The other is cobbled together by a retired accountant from Wandsworth who seems to have terrible difficulty in understanding the most basic points about the economics of tax systems. The existence of the Laffer Curve for example, the incidence of taxation. Indeed, he\’s been vocal in support of a transactions tax something which out Laureate has pointed out is a very silly method of taxation indeed.
And which set of proposals gain traction with the TUC, the BBC, The Guardian, with he left generally?
Quite, it\’s something of an indictment of how politics actually works, isn\’t it?