Let’s cut through the cant – a graduate tax, however qualified and sanitised, is deferred tuition fees as an alternative to upfront tuition fees. It operates on the assumption that a graduate who is successful has profited from the state and should pay back something for this privilege.
My instinct is to reject that proposition absolutely. It is the state that profits from the graduate, not the other way round. Education should be free because it is vital to the state and to all of its citizens. Education is a right, not a privilege.
However, desperate time demand desperate remedies, and I have one, which I offer without fear or favour to all parties.
There should be a tax on those who benefited from their education at any level. If they went to school, college or university in the United Kingdom, they must pay it. However, there should be an income threshold at which they start to pay it, and I set that level, as arbitrarily as the parties have set their much lower figures, at £75,000 per annum. It should be levied on income at or above that level, however obtained - earned or unearned – from salary, profits, dividends, capital gains, bank interest or pension. It should be 5% of total income and payable for life.
It is manifestly fair, being levied on those who have profited most from being educated in the United Kingdom. It is progressive, in that the higher the income, the greater the profit from education and therefore the greater the payback. It protects not only the poorest in our society, but also those who have achieved modest but not extravagant success from their education.
To help the nation in its present dilemma, it should be made retrospective for five years.
It will be argued that such a tax will drive entrepreneurial individuals - e.g. recklessly gambling bankers, drug dealers, cheap booze peddlers and politicians on the take - from our shores, to which I say – **** off, good riddance, bye-bye and don’t come back! We only want citizens who recognise their obligations to the society of which they are a part, and who wish to put back a bit of what they have taken from it.
I modestly suggest that this should be named The Moridura Tax, and since I do not wish to be ennobled or gonged by the British Empire, that I should be awarded a lifetime supply of saxophone and clarinet reeds from a grateful nation.
Of course, if this tax proves – as it might – unacceptable to those who wish to impose a graduate tax at or around £21,000 per annum income, I say – then shut the **** up about taxing graduates and we might let you off The Moridura Tax.