Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Corporation tax: Myth of consensus on cuts exposed by poll

Our Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, urges us to accentuate the positive.

In that light, I think it is very welcome that more people agree with the trade union movement that cutting Corporation Tax for our largest companies is a bad bet in which an estimated £400m will be taken from the local budget and handed to businessmen who cannot guarantee that a single new job will be created.

The public have seen through the torrent of propaganda and have exposed just how false the apparent ‘consensus’ in favour of a cut is.

There is another false ‘consensus’ which the unions are challenging, and the poll results of another tax-related question show that we are slowly succeeding in shifting public opinion away from ‘the conventional wisdom’. One-third of those with an opinion say they would prefer higher taxes to cuts, which is remarkable considering every local political party parrots the Tory line that there is no alternative to cuts in services and jobs for the many and cuts in taxes for the privileged few.

That this 35% of those with an opinion are willing to buck the consensus is impressive enough. I would be interested if the question had been phrased differently. Many people asked may have said no to a specific reference to water rates.

I suspect that people’s views would have been very different if asked: “Public finances are under strain: Do you think that any shortfall should be made up by collecting the taxes which are avoided or evaded rather than cuts to public services?”

Eugene McGlone is President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions

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