An interesting supposition

And one that may well have a measure of truth to it. That supposition being that there's only so much tax that you can pull out of an economy:

While raising taxes was “easier” for a future chancellor to do than shrink expenditure, Dame DeAnne added: “My personal view is that this country is hitting rates of marginal taxation that are pretty close to the ceiling of what you can expect to actually get to work for you by getting increasing revenues by increasing rates.” Dame DeAnne suggested that spending cuts were the only solution,

She used the example of Labour’s pledge to restore the 50p top rate of tax to illustrate her point. The Institute for Fiscal Studies believes the policy is unlikely to raise more than £100m, after the Coalition’s decision to cut it to 45p cost the government around the same amount, according to official studies.

“It’s difficult to see where you can get substansial additional revenue from the tax side unless it’s through broadening the VAT base, which both parties have said they are not going to do,” said Dame DeAnne. “Anyway, that’s a politically difficult thing to do.”

Mr Plenderleith agreed. “There are a range of views as to what the optimal tipping point is and it seems to me that we’re quite close to that,” he said.

We do not say that this is absolutely true. But that it is generally true seems to us to be an intriguing thought. That there's a rough amount of the economy that you can tax out of it. That rough amount changing over very long periods of time perhaps, and over different countries, but each place having its own natural rate. Outside true emergencies like all out war no one's really managed to get much more than 35% of the British economy in tax. The American Federal system never seems to manage more than 19 to 20% for anything other than a couple of years. Yet the tax burdens in other countries can and have been for decades rather higher.

This is also true whatever the tax system actually is. Whether it's all largely consumption based, or income, or they try to nickel and dime us to death with imposts on this or that, some cultures will accept higher tax burdens than others. For we've tried different variations of the tax system over time and those amounts that we can collect don't seem to budge all that much.

all of which will be something of a disappointment to Polly Toynbee of course. For as she's fond of pointing out we Brits seem to want Scandinavian style services with American style tax rates. The analysis here leading us to the conclusion that it's the taxes that are the immovable object: meaning that it's the services that have to be cut to fit that, not just the tax rates raised to provide that chicken in every pot and a pony.