The Conservative Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said that the super-rich of Britain are a “put-upon minority” like the homeless who people should stop “bashing.”
Writing in the right-wing Daily Telegraph newspaper, the recently re-elected mayor said that Britain’s top 1% deserve “our humble and hearty thanks” for their contribution to society. He also said that the top 10 richest people in Britain should be given automatic knighthoods.
He went on to write that:
We should stop any bashing or moaning or preaching or bitching and simply give thanks for the prodigious sums of money that they are contributing to the tax revenues of this country, and that enable us to look after our sick and our elderly and to build roads, railways and schools.
Johnson (full name: Boris Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson) claimed that the top 1% of earners in Britain contribute 29.8% of the revenue contributed by the Treasury, although he offered no evidence to support this claim.
UK Uncut, a grassroots organisation opposed to the British Government’s austerity program, has figures suggesting that tax evasion by corporations and the richest individuals costs the state a staggering £95 billion per year.
The Conservative-led coalition government has actually cut the staff working on tax avoidance at Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, Britain’s tax collection organization. One executive from the Bank of England has estimated that the free insurance provided to British banks by the taxpayer costs £100 billion per year.
Either of these figures would be enough to fund the Government’s 4-year, £81 billion regiment of spending cuts. These have included cuts to the Disability Living Allowance, the abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance (a financial subsidy designed to encourage poorer students to stay on in education past 16) and increasing university tuition fees from £3,000 per year to £9,000 per year.
Johnson’s remarks demonstrate just how out of touch the Conservative Party is. The average wage in Britain is £21,000 per year. The top rate of British taxpayers, those earning £150,000 per year or more, comprise 1% of the population. The Conservative-Liberal coalition government recently cut the top rate of tax from 50% to 45%.
Johnson has called for the government to go further, proposing a new flat tax that would have reduced the top rate of tax to just 30%. When he was elected, Boris Johnson promised to eliminate homelessness by the end of his first term in 2012. It has doubled under his term as mayor.
According to Politics.co.uk Johnson may have his own reasons for supporting a tax-cut for Britain’s super-rich:
His first mayoral election campaign was heavily financed by City donors [from the financial sector]. Donations to his second mayoral election campaign were routed through Conservative central office, meaning that names of individual donors did not have to be revealed.
Johnson has a history of controversy. In 2009 he claimed that the £250,000 he received each year to write a weekly newspaper column was “chicken feed”. £250,000 is ten times the average wage for a worker in Britain.