Yes, I know, it’s so easy to make fun of Polly Toynbee’s constant mantra that we should be more like Sweden. It’s become almost like Peter Simple’s Mrs. Dutt-Pauker: so much so that I’m sure Polly has picked up on the joke herself and uses her “we should be more like the Nordics” line as an in joke.
Well, I would if I’d ever been able to discern that she’s a sense of humour and I fear that, as with Magie Thatcher, that’s just not one of the human attributes she has. Still, I’m happy to say that we really are becoming more like Sweden:
As you can see, levels of inequality in the two countries are converging. Please note, this is after all of the things we try to do to reduce inequality, after all of the taxing and the welfare spending. So of course as the UK becomes ever more like Sweden Polly must be getting happier, no?
And of course we are continuing to get more like Sweden in other ways. Free schools are very much modelled on Sweden’s highly admired system of such free schools. Corporation tax is being cut, just as Sweden has a low corporation tax: it’s the standard economics of taxation that corporate taxes are more damaging to growth than consumption taxes for the same revenue raised. VAT has been raised for the same reason: we’ve not reached Sweden’s 25% as yet but better to have the less damaging tax all the same.
Just one thing more to do then, one more thing to bring us really into line with that icy social democratic paradise that is Sweden. Well, OK, if you insist, two. We have to abolish inheritance tax and also the national minimum wage. Sweden has neither. And as we really are told that we must be more like Sweden we should do these two things as well.