United Kingdom

Budget 2021: Keir Starmer slammed by Labour bible the New Statesman over opposition to tax rises

Sir Keir Starmer was facing increased kickback against his refusal to back business tax rises today as a Labour 'Bible' accused him of leaving voters 'bewildered'.

In a scathing attack on the Opposition Leader the New Statesman said that the party has '‘no idea what it wants’ under his leadership. 

Sir Keir has already faced criticism from the left of the party over his refusal to demand Rishi Sunak increase corporation taxes in the Budget later today - even when increases have been backed by some senior Tories. 

The Chancellor is said to be considering raising corporation tax to as much as 25 per cent from 19 per cent. 

However, there is a growing split in the party on the issue because some Labour MPs believe they should be supporting an increase, arguing it is a progressive tax that targets large firms who have thrived in the pandemic. 

In a leader column in this week's magazine criticises Sir Keir's position, pointing out that he campaigned for the leadership last year on a platform that included increases to corporation tax. 

Headlined 'Lost Labour' it said the party seems 'increasingly troubled' as support for the Tories grows on the back of the successful vaccine rollout.

In a scathing attack on the Opposition Leader the New Sattesman said that the party has '‘no idea what it wants’ under his leadership.

Sir Keir has already faced criticism from the left of the party over his refusal to demand Rishi Sunak increase corporation taxes in the Budget later today

'It is possible to argue – on technical Keynesian grounds – that no tax rises should be imposed during an economic recovery. But this assertion is unlikely to persuade voters who have struggled as large corporations have thrived,' it said.

'In the US, President Biden has grasped the public mood by calling for a rise in corporation tax from 21 per cent to 28 per cent alongside a $1.9trillion (almost 9 per cent of GDP) stimulus programme.

'Having fallen behind the Conservatives in the polls following the successful vaccine roll-out, Labour seems increasingly troubled. 

'On 27 February, after Anas Sarwar became the party’s new Scottish leader, the deputy leader Angela Rayner and the shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy erroneously tweeted that he was the first ethnic-minority leader of any party (that was the Jewish Benjamin Disraeli). This was careless.

'Perhaps no political party is as adept at reinvention as the Tories. Mr Sunak is unlikely to repeat the punitive spending cuts of the past decade. 

'As the Conservatives reposition themselves for a new era of state intervention, the Labour Party seems to have lost confidence in what it is, what it wants and for whom it speaks.'

Sir Keir has demanded the Government rule out any tax rises on firms or families this year as the country tries to recover from the coronavirus crisis. 

And at the weekend shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds insisted 'now is not the time for immediate tax rises' as she hinted Labour could back a corporation tax hike in the future. 

The row comes as Labour continues to dip in the polls as the coronavirus vaccination programme continues across the UK.

At the weekend Sir Keir's approval rating fell to its lowest level since he replaced Jeremy Corbyn last April.

A new survey conducted by Deltapoll showed Sir Keir has a net approval rating of zero. 

But Boris Johnson has continued his upward surge, with the PM pulling ahead of his counterpart for the first time since last May, recording a number of plus 10. 

Yesterday Sir Keir came under attack from hard Left elements in the party today, who urged him to listen to grassroots activists agitating for tax rises.   

The warning came in a paper co-written by Jon Trickett and Ian Lavery, who served in Jeremy Corbyn's top team but were jettisoned by Sir Keir last April.

The pair, together with ex-MP Laura Smith, said that Sir Keir is wrong to argue against corporation tax increases ahead of Wednesday's Budget.

In their paper, the trio said that 'even a Tory Chancellor wants to see increases in corporation tax', with Rishi Sunak rumoured to be considering a rise as part of the effort to reduce the coronavirus deficit.

They argued: 'We must remember that corporation tax is a tax on big business profits - not families.

'Having spoken to many members of the Labour movement over the last year, it is becoming clearer that the party is becoming more disconnected from its movement and values.'

The trio - all supporters of Sir Keir's predecessor Mr Corbyn - claim that trend is 'reflected in the wider public' because of Labour's inability to build an opinion poll lead.

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