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Compass loses direction

“Compass” is a think tank that claims to be providing direction for the democratic left. A few months ago it published a report by Toby Lloyd, which was unequivocal in its support of land value taxation.

Compass has swung. Its latest offering, “In Place of Cuts: Tax reform to build a fairer society”, puts forward what it describes as “a comprehensive analysis of the UK Tax system” and offers a “straightforward set of proposals which would start to make it fairer.” Unfortunately, as one would expect from the list of people who have written it – George Irvin, Dave Byrne, Richard Murphy, Howard Reed and Sally Ruane, with the support of UNISON, it is just another proposal for “soaking the rich”.

The authors refuse to listen to the opposition, which argues that “the rich” will simply head for less hostile shores, as they have always done, or exploit the loopholes in the system. Nor do they want to know that there is a difference between that which has been worked for and that which has not – the economic rent of land. Consequently, there is a world of difference between what they see as “fair”, and what is just. But no good can come from policies that are motivated by envy and anger, however righteous.

Unfortunately, the victims of these policies are the poor and those with few qualifications to bring to the labour market, whom the tax system locks into welfare-dependency.