Martin Bright

Janice Turner: Heroine of the People

Text settings

It's not often you find a full-blown leftie on the pages of The Times (or any British newspaper come to that). But Janice Turner's attack o the undeserving rich today is magnificent. Get Thee To a Miserable Swiss Tax Haven is a wonderful, joyous broadside against the whingers who believe that the new 50 pence tax rate will kill enterprise.

She's not really a socialist, she's an old-fashioned liberal with a social conscious (which puts you pretty much on the left after the shift in the consensus that took place in the mid-1990s). But this paragraph is particularly good:

"The disturbing thing about Alistair Darling's Budget was not that it extracted a few extra thou from the few, the fortunate 350,000 or so who already enjoy six times the average British salary. It was the implication that taxation for the rich is a punishment, some vindictive redress for the misdeeds of the bankrupting bankers called for by a torches-and- pitchfork-wielding posse, rather than what it should be, what it is for the rest of us: an enduring social obligation, a mark of citizenship, a duty."

But then this one's a stonker too:

"In any case, very few British would-be philanthropists seem to have grasped the honourable principle of the Gates Foundation - “for those to whom much is given, much is expected” - since the top 2 per cent of British earners give far less, as a proportion of earnings, than the bottom 2 per cent. The council estate mum scrimping a fiver for Children in Need is bigger hearted than the tuxedo-clad hedgie. And unlike him, she probably also pays tax."

The Times is real treat today: Mandelson's interview with Robet Crampton, Liz Forgan on the future of the arts, the new details from Francis Elliott and James Hanning's book on Cameron and Matthew Parris's column on the Tory leader. all good stuff.