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Tax wages not profits

So the “fairer” policies of the new ConDem régime include cutting corporation tax while reversing only that portion of Labour’s dreaded jobs tax which was to fall on employers: workers themselves will not now get the pledged threshold raise. As George Osborne blurted last night through the sneering rubber George Osborne mask permanently superglued to his face:

Our aim is to create the most competitive corporate tax regime in the G20.

I feel sure that competitive here is Unspeak for something — but what, readers?

  1. 1  Barney  May 20, 2010, 2:36 pm 

    ‘Lowest’? ‘Cutthroat’?

  2. 2  shadowfirebird  May 20, 2010, 2:42 pm 

    It is a rather odd use of the word. Who or what, exactly, is our corporate tax regime competing against?

    I suppose some global businesses might well shop around G20 countries to find the best deal in terms of tax. But if this is what he meant, it’s a bit of a two edged sword. Surely the MOST competitive corporate tax regime would be to charge no tax at all? Which doesn’t sound like a good thing to me.

    Wearing my rose-coloured glasses, perhaps he meant “the most competitiveness-enabling…” — but not only are you likely to lose you teeth trying to say that live, I feel we would have jumped on him even harder.

  3. 3  Other Alex  May 20, 2010, 4:42 pm 

    I’m pretty sure this is businessman Unspeak for “cheap”. Like Tesco’s being competitive. Or outsourcing to where you’ll find more competitive wages.

  4. 4  sw  May 20, 2010, 8:18 pm 

    There’s a certain genius to what Osborne says? First of all, he takes it for granted that the government needs to be “competitive” – it is clearly a priority for him that the government is an extension of the corporate world. The language of commerce is the language of governance. Second, there’s a sublime loathing in “tax regime”, an audible suggestion of the tyrannical nature of taxation; Tories know they need to collect taxes, but they really hate them.

    Do you mind awfully if I offer an elaborate interpretation of the unspeak at work? If I’m not mistaken, the underlying “competition” in a “”free market”” is that businesses vie for consumer loyalty through persuasion, pricing,and producing the best product: they compete with another for market share, for maximising profit, and so on.

    Now here’s the general Unspeak. Tories and their ideological comrades focus on bolstering, supporting, & propping up corporate interests – they will use policy, taxation, and government spending to protect these corporate interests, working feverishly to manage their relationships with companies, industries, and so on; when corporatist politicians use the language of the “”free market””, they are unspeaking the extent to which they are government interventionalists. So, for example, Osborne’s “competitive” approves of the bare-knuckle transparency, the ingenuity, and the ethic of hard work that breeds success in the free market, and unspeaks how a drop in taxation is fundamentally yet another government subsidy to corporations. Yes? No?

  5. 5  democracy_grenade  May 20, 2010, 9:01 pm 

    I think “jobs tax” was my favourite/least favourite piece of election-period unspeak. And I think that, linking with the speculative point made by sw @ 4, the “jobs tax” was always presented as having been proposed for “introduction” by the Labour Party (or, in some more indirect sense, the idea of novelty was evoked). (E.g. on its official site, the Conservative Party promises to “[s]top Labour’s jobs tax”). This, of course, obscures the fact that the Conservatives were not calling for a complete elimination of NICs: there is an unspoken consensus about the existence of a level at which jobs need to be or should be “taxed”.

  6. 6  john b  May 21, 2010, 7:31 am 

    How about National Insurance as a piece of Unspeak, while we’re here? It’s not, in any sense, insurance – it’s a slightly nastier, more hidden and more regressive (because it’s paid on all earnings, even those below the annual threshold) version of income tax.

  7. 7  Steven  May 21, 2010, 3:29 pm 

    sw — yes? But note that Osborne does not describe the government as “competitive”, only the “corporate tax régime”. I wonder when it began to be possible to apply competitive to contexts as well as to the actual entities that are doing the competing?

    d_g — yes (see new post).

    john b — yes!

  8. 8  john c. halasz  May 22, 2010, 3:55 am 

    “I feel sure that competitive here is Unspeak for something — but what, readers?”

    Er, I believe it is called “the luck of the Irish”.

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