In an excellent column by Iain Martin in today's Telegraph, Sir Michael Caine is quoted denouncing the new 50% top rate of tax. Sir Michael goes on to say that he, undoubtedly like so many other wealthy and successful Britons, will be leaving the country if the tax burden continues to increase.
I have written, both last week on our website and for Guardian Comment is Free, on how this tax rate signals the death of British ambition. Without wanting to go over old ground too much, it will punish success and exemplifies a seriously retrograde step for a Government that, whatever flaws it had, was strict about not soaking the rich to the extent Labour governments have in the past.
Sir Michael also makes an excellent point in terms of the Government's skewed priorities. In the last ten years, we have seen social mobility decrease, and the welfare state is struggling under the strain of too many people who have a sense of entitlement. These people are either unwilling or unable to work, have become a drain on the taxpayer, and yet still the Government would rather put up taxes than deal with the looming spectre of our benefits crisis. The charming old fox put it much better than I ever could: "We've got 3.5 million layabouts on benefits, and I'm 76, getting up at 6am to go to work to keep them. Let's get everybody back to work so we can save a couple of billion and cut tax, not keep sticking it up."