Harry Styles’ declaration in The Sunday Times that he will vote ‘for whoever is against Brexit’ on the basis that ‘the world should be more about being together and being better together and joining together, and I think it’s the opposite of that,’ seemed to confirm much of what I was seeing on the anti-Brexit marches which followed last year’s referendum. Vacuous, fashionable, young people who have little interest in the detail of politics, but read Buzzfeed and have vague, infantile, ideas along the lines of togetherness being nice so voting for Brexit must make you a horrid, nasty, racist. That hopey, changey, stuff again.
I should say now I am by no means tarring all Remainers, or all young people, with this brush. My flatmate is both a Remainer and a Federalist (a position I respect because it at least offers an alternative to the complete clusterfuck of the EU as it is currently constituted) and, being only three years older than Mr Styles, I suppose he still counts as young. My girlfriend is a Remainer, a Labourite, and five years younger than me – all while being eminently more sensible than I am. But, by the same token, I’d say young lefty Remainers are disproportionately represented in the ‘hopey, changey’ brigade. And this is who the Labour manifesto is aimed at.
I picked out several fantasies in Corbyn’s foreword alone (the magic comes in the accounting). ‘Young people are held back by debt’ was the first one. Really, Jez? I can only assume he’s talking about student loan repayments here, which were very consciously designed not to hold young people back. I now earn considerably more than the repayment threshold, for example, yet pay back £111 a month. So don’t be ridiculous. ‘Our entrepreneurs and managers are being held back from growing their business (sic)’ made me laugh. Jezza doesn’t seem to think hiking corporation tax and capital gains tax has any impact on business growth.
‘Britain is the fifth richest country in the world,’ he continues. ‘But that means little when many people don’t share in that wealth.’ Who, exactly, isn’t sharing in that wealth? This is a fairly prevalent misconception, as demonstrated by the lovely Cathy when she confronted the prime minister yesterday. But, to be fair to Cathy, she did have learning disabilities. Jezza’s just exploiting popular misconceptions for votes. If you look up ‘Shares of total Income Tax liability’ on Gov.UK, you can see some revealing statistics about the redistribution of wealth in this country.
The figures go back to 1999 and show, for example, that the bottom 50 per cent (and every percentile within that) have seen their share of income before tax increase in the last 16 years. Whereas, in 1999/00, the bottom 50 per cent earned 23.8 per cent of the country’s income, in 2016/17 they earned 25.3 per cent. Conversely, where in 1999/00 the top 50 per cent earned 76.2 per cent of all income, they now earn 74.7 per cent.
But the really revealing figures come from the ‘after tax’ column. There, the bottom 50 per cent’s share of earnings goes up from 25.3 per cent pre-tax to 28.3 per cent post-tax, while the top 50 per cent’s goes down from 74.7 to 71.7 per cent. Even the bottom one per cent’s earnings go from 0.3 to 0.4 per cent of all earnings, while the top one per cent’s go from 11.8 to 8.7 per cent. And, of course, the very same spreadsheet will show you that Jezza’s much-maligned five per cent – roughly those earning £80,000 a year or more – contribute almost half (47.1 per cent) of all income tax collected by HMRC. The top one per cent more than a quarter (26.9 per cent).
Many voters who know all this will vote Labour on June 8th, because they believe it is the right thing to do, and that it offers the best set of policies to tackle the challenges this country faces. My girlfriend will likely be among them. I can respect that and I can explain why I disagree. I can even explain why I don’t think voting for Theresa May will be all that different. But what can you do with people like Harry Styles? People who like to think they Give a Toss About Stuff™ and like the sound of vague hopey, changey policies, but who aren’t old enough to remember how disastrous they were the last time they were tried and aren’t interested enough to find out? They may as well be voting Liberal Democat.
There are some consolations to this conundrum. Many of the hopey, changey brigade don’t actually think voting is all that important to the democratic process – preferring the virtue signalling of Twitter and impotent post-result marches – and time: YouGov recently found the average age people switch from voting Labour to Conservative is 34. Just another 11 years, and you’re a Tory, Harry.
This article was originally published by Conservatives for Liberty.