Posted by: aboutalbion | September 4, 2012

Representation without taxation

“No taxation without representation” and “No representation without taxation” are a couple of slogans whose study would provide an interesting historical tour of various disputes in the English-speaking world over the past few centuries.

This train of thought began yesterday when I heard that Parliament was returning from its summer recess.  The question of the Government’s economic competence was on the agenda in a morning radio discussion, and the spokesperson for the coalition Government repeated the claim (that the Chancellor made at the time of his March Budget announcements) that it was Government policy to take two million low earning people out of the taxation system altogether.  The coalition Government’s longer term aim is to increase this number by legislating that no one with an income of less than £10,000 pays any income tax.

So it is Government policy to substantially increase the number of voters who pay no income tax.  If the link between representation and taxation has any continuing merit, then an unintended consequence of this policy may be to decrease the participation rate at election time.  [I think it was the case that the turnout at the 2010 General Election ranged from 46% to 77% in the constituencies, with a UK rate of 65%.]

With the current Paralympics in mind, a postscript …  I recall an interview screened last week (using archive footage) with the founder of the first Paralympic Games in 1948 – the Stoke Mandeville Hospital neurologist, Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann (1899-1980).  When he was asked about the aim of his professional work with disabled people, he replied that his aim was to return them to the community as tax payers.  To my way of thinking, he was expressing the opinion that paying tax was a component of identity in a modern nation state.

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