back to article Txt tax would wipe out half UK deficit, claims union baron

Railway union boss Bob Crow reckons putting a one-penny tax on text messaging would wipe out half the UK's deficit, demonstrating a rather optimistic approach to financial planning. The comment comes in an interview with The Guardian, and is followed by the assertion that if in charge, the good Mr Crow would "squeeze the rich …


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  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Good point... better let's make it £1 per text - and an extra surcharge on voice of £5 per call if the caller speaks loudly or shouts, double if they're on a train or in a similar crowded place, £50 if the phone rings while in a theatre/cinema/library.

  2. Oliver Humpage

    One pence?

    One penny. Two pence.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Two pence.

      Tuppence old hat now is it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Twopence is for seeds

        Feed the birds... Twopence a bag...

        He is mistaking communications with the railways. Communications across most of the country do not follow the rule of "On First Capital Connect nobody will hear you scream".

        It is the railways where you can charge the customers anything they like and then some and then pack them like a sardine in a can and then ask them if they like it.

        Communications are not exactly the same... Customers will promptly alter their means of communications to avoid costs and/or congestion. If you charge them for SMS they will move to IM, if you find a way to charge them for IM they will move to mail and so on as the mobile operators discovered once they started offering meaningful data tariffs. If you stack messages in a "carriage" for 1h in a siding for later processing they will simply switch to something else.

      2. Michael Strorm


        "Tuppence old hat now is it?"

        I'd have said so, yes.

        "Tuppence", "thruppence" and the like I only ever recall being used by my parents' generation to refer to old pre-decimal money (which even though I was only born five years after decimalisation, was totally alien to me, some weird and confusing relic of the past with esoteric coins, endless shillings, guineas, farthings and the like).

        I can't recall it ever being used to refer to modern money.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Stratman


        All the penny coins in my pocket have "ONE PENNY" stamped thereon.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        You mean

        You mean "one penny piece" I think.

        "One pence piece" doesn't make sense.

        1. Colin Millar


          "one penny" is what it says

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Another great idea brought to you by...

    ... the moron who thinks that striking every six months is a good way to drum up support for your cause.

    "Here's a good one: How about a penny extra tax on travel tickets. Oh crap, they are expensive already.

    Ok. Er lottery tickets. Nope.

    Er how about loafs of bread. Great! Everyone needs bread.... and food. Sod it if we taxed food the deficit could be wiped out before christmas."

    And that is how Bob Crow came to be lynched by a baying mob your honour....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How about a strike tax

      A tenner a day per striker, paid by the union and fifty a day for each picket who is not a union member

  4. Vitani


    I'm use a pre-pay mobile, and I wouldn't mind paying an extra 1p per text, seems like a good idea! I'm not sure how it'd work on contracts though...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      it'd probably work

      by the operator charging you 1p per text and then passing it onto the government?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: it'd probably work

        You mean taxes go to the government!?

        o crap, well this idea isnt gud at all then!

  5. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Nothing to see here, move along

    Was it really necessary to demonstrate that unionists (and socialists or communists) do not have the slightest grasp of how economics work?

    "Do we have a problem with excess spending? Just raise taxes, that will do." The problem with these people is, they collect and spend tax revenue as if it is not their own money. Oh, bugger!

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge


      'Was it really necessary to demonstrate that unionists (and socialists or communists) do not have the slightest grasp of how economics work?'

      I think our current situation is largely down to the fact that economists do not have the slightest grasp of how economics work.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Actually

        "I think our current situation is largely down to the fact that economists do not have the slightest grasp of how economics work."

        Nah, it's more a case of the fact that economics, being a discipline not based on any objective measure of reality, doesn't actually work in the first place.

        Right, I'm off to do all my Xmas shopping down the 'ideal market'...

      2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        @Mike Richards

        Correct me if I'm wrong but as far as I know the current situation was largely forseeable using well known ecomomics models. Mind you, there's not only one possible outcome although even with modest knowledge of economics it was pretty obvious that we were running into troubles.

        Rather than clueless economists the problem was that as long as all profited no one could be bothered to change course.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Would have to agree.

          We all quite happily benefited under new labour (myself included) turning a blind eye on the fact that some point something had to give. That point is now.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            We all quite happily benefited under new labour...

            Some of us were repeatedly pointing out the unsustainable rise in public spending and the government's casual disregard of the credit bubble.

    2. Ted Treen

      The trouble with socialists... that they inevitably run out of other people's money.

      1. Scott 19
        Thumb Up

        @Ted Treen

        I'm gettijng that put on a t-shirt.

        1. Ted Treen

          Send me one

          (pint OR a T-shirt) & I won't ask for royalties.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          @ Scott 19

          Put me down for 10 of those please. While we are at it could you add:

          Gordon & Alistair, the men who bankrupted Britain.

          Gordon Brown, Arbitrary private pension destroyer.

          Gordon Brown, Gold sell off Swindler.

          Jesus, do any labour voters have any marbles.......................?

          Personally, I think all labour politicians should all be put up against a wall and shot for crimes against the state. All except mandy - I want to bludgeon him to death with an extremely blunt spoon. Even that is too good for him.

          Most gubberments (& economists) follow keynesian economics, which is known to be terribly flawed - they have always known it will go bang (or tits up, whatever you prefer) one day. Unfortunately that day is extremely close now.

          Don't think anybody can predict what will happen, other than to say it is not going to be pretty. The yanks are mainly to blame for completely killing off the gold standard when they discovered they could not pay for the Vietnam war. A lot of other countries followed suit - since then its simply spiralled our of control. The Dollar is more than likely dead, as is the pound and the Euro.

          Meantime China and India have been buying up all the physical gold and silver they can as they know the paper markets that represent the metals have at least 10 times more paper than the actuals. They also know that the gov't bonds and gilts of most countries in the west are not worth the paper they are printed on.

          Europe meanwhile (which is perhaps the greatest abomination of all) allows corrupt and idiotic countries/governments like Greece to join where you could retire at 46 as well economically inferior countries from eastern Europe - a recipe for economic disaster given the UK's 'socialist' preoccupation.

          Wow - how did an order for T shirts turn into that........ Guess I'm just really pissed having elected officials who are at best incompetent, secretive and self perpetuating.

        3. amanfromearth
          Thumb Up

          T Shirt..

          It's a quote from the great lady herself. Margaret Thatcher

      2. Anonymous Coward

        The trouble with capitalists

        As the economic crisis has proven is that economists/cpaitalists can't help but line their own pockets at the expense of the system and it's contributors. They demonstrate an a fearsome addiction to money and attempt to create alternate realities and economic models which almost always eventually collapse or are simply reset and allowed to collapse again once the current disaster is a long distant memory.

        1. Maty


          ' They demonstrate an a (sic) fearsome addiction to money and attempt to create alternate realities and economic models which almost always eventually collapse or are simply reset and allowed to collapse again once the current disaster is a long distant memory...'

          Oddly enough, that pretty much sums up the last Labour government.

        2. M Gale

          Re: the trouble with capitalists.

          Problem is, that would be way tl;dr for a T shirt.

        3. Anonymous Coward

          Boom and bust vs No growth

          The fact is that, averaged over time, boom and bust is still better than the no growth situation that extreme socialism ends up giving you. Look at East vs West Germany as a fantastic example. East Germany hardly grew at all (in GDP terms) in the time between WW2 and the reunification; whereas West Germany grew many times over, despite going through a number of recessions.

          Recessions are painful and some people are hurt disproportionately large amounts, but capitalism even with its problems is significantly better than any alternatives people have yet come up with.

          Remember also that the reason this time was so painful was because the bubble was ready to burst way back in 2002, but governments spent their way through the bubble in Keynesian terms, allowing it to grow even bigger before it actually burst. If we had taken our medicine in 2002 rather than idiots like Brown trying to spend our way through a recession in the belief that they had done away with boom and bust, we would have got rid of the debt bubble far earlier and far less painfully.

          1. Colin Millar

            Nothing to do with Keynes

            You must be thinking about using public spending to stimulate growth.

            Keynesian theory is quite clear about how increased public spending is supported - taxation, bonds etc and recognises that there will inevitably be a rebalancing - this is because Keynes knew how to do sums.

            All that was stimulated during the last decade was unsupported credit to all and sundry - not just governments. The failure point when the cost of default is greater than the value of new credit can be worked out with a pencil and a very small peice of paper.

            Just a thought but maybe being able to do sums should be a requirement for bankers (and for Treasury ministers).

      3. Tequila Joe

        @Ted Treen

        That's you, isn't it Maggie? Clever using the name Ted...great double-bluff.

        Ted Treen: "The trouble with that they inevitably run out of other people's money."

        Maggie Thatcher: "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money. "

        I wonder if Maggie was thinking of a particular politician when she said: "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."

        Do tell.

    3. dpg21

      Oh goodie, a labour / tory argument.... I'll just chime in with my tuppeny worth

      Labour may have their faults (and I'd be the first in line to see Tony hanged for war crimes and Gordon locked up for massive economic fraud) but if you think the Tories are here to benefit anyone posting on these forms you're suffering from clinical-grade delusions. If they could figure out a way to reintroduce a serf class for their Eton chums we'd all find ourselves working for gruel and shelter tomorrow.

  6. irish donkey


    Vodaphone won't even pay the tax bill they have now. So how do our tax master plan to get Vodaphone and their like to pay more.

    Shame on Vodaphone, BHS and all those other Tax avoiding scum.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Says the contractor who boasted about 'avoiding' taxes pre-ir35....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        And do you think it is wrong?

        I think it is not.

        UK is one of those countries where it is considered unnatural for a technical manager to be paid less than some of their qualified staff. Prior to ir35, this "unnatural" situation was naturally resolved by the most qualified going on a contract. It is one of those UK specific outright sillies, but nobody found it "unnatural" to pay a _HIGHER_ rate to a contractor than the manager was getting while the same situation for permies was considered untolerable.

        IR35 did very little in terms of getting tax revenue and I am inclined to think that this was the intention of its "sponsors" like Capita in the first place. It gave all highly qualified technical staff earning more than the GMs a choice - either lobotomise themselves into a managerial function or take a pay cut.

        7 years ago UK was a country plenty of places where you could get four people to write you a whole embedded system or a single person to write you a whole networking stack in a couple of months before moving off to their next contract. There were FTSE500 companies whose existence and business model was based on that. UK had a competitive industry on the global scale.

        7 years later there is nothing left from this. The few remaining manage 60 wannabies in a warmer climate who fail to deliver where two British contractors delivered with ease 7 years ago.

        That is the real damage from IR35. It made the entire UK IT and Telecoms industry anticompetitive in the long term. From an overall cost vs benefits to the economy point of view I'd rather have people avoiding taxes till this day but still have an innovative and competitive industry as it creates a whole chain of jobs each and every one of which is taxed.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          @And do you think it is wrong?

          Of course not,

          What is "wrong" is hypocrites who moan about other people managing their taxes efficiently whilst doing the exact same thing themselves, like the Donkey above.

          1. irish donkey

            Managing taxes efficently / Avoiding taxes

            If VodaPhone were managing their taxes efficiently then I can't see why the HRMC had a claim for 12bn. Avoiding Tax and managing tax efficiently..... guess it depends on which side of the fence you are sitting on.

            I take it you work Cadbury. Another great British institution managing their tax efficiently by moving to Switzerland.

            I'm PAYE.

            What's your status anonymous coward?

    2. John G Imrie Silver badge

      How about

      a tax on every time a company takes the head of HMRC out to dinner.

      I reckon £6b sounds about right.

    3. Mark Serlin

      And shame on HMG

      for letting them get away with it and landing me with the bill!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why dont we simply NOT pay interest on the deficit!

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge


      you're a troll, right?

    2. John Burton

      Re: Er...

      > Why dont we simply NOT pay interest on the deficit!

      Because we're relying on people lending the government very many billions of pounds just to keep paying the biils, and if you stop paying interest who exactly would be willing to lend the goverment their money?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why not....

      Same reason you don't default on your credit card bill.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        they send the heavies around and we cant change address fast enuff? Or might they taaaaaaaaake it away from me? (after of course I have maxed out)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Because that would be classed as a default, which would mean we could not borrow more or it would be extremely expensive, at the same time anyone who holds guilts would see their holdings drop hugely in value. (Not just banks who would suffer, but it would devastate our pensions.) It would also massively devalue the pound causing huge inflation causing all sorts of social chaos.

      Wait, is 'ooFie' Bob Crows Reg screen name??

    5. Tony S


      I'm not sure if you meant that as a facetious comment. However, it appears that there are many that don't understand, so in just in case...

      The government raises money through taxation, and then spends money on roads, rail, armed forces, schools, health. If they spend more than they raise, this is called a "deficit". The "national debt" is effectively all of the deficits that have been accrued by various governments over the years. (The amount of that is open to interpretation, but is well over £1 trillion and still climbing)

      Like any other person or organisation, if you spend more than you receive in income, you have to draw on existing assets, or borrow the money. You borrow money from other people and in return, you pay them for their generosity by giving them a bit more money than you borrowed. This is called "interest".

      If you decide that you don't want to pay interest, then you are going to find it difficult to get anyone to lend you money. And, if you decide not to repay the money that you have borrowed, you are classified as a bad risk and no-one will lend you money except at stupidly high rates of interest which reflects the level of risk that they are taking.

      In serious cases, the lender will send the boys around to encourage you to make a payment. Whilst we would not see that at a government level, instead we see other countries refusing to supply us with goods.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Seriously - 2

        That is a very good summary of the facts.

        The two questions that lead on from this is

        1) WTF do we do to pay off national debt - not just cut the annual deficeit.

        2) How do we stop the politicos having short term polivy views (lets speand today and let whoever wins the next election pay of it) from over speanding again.

        1. Ted Treen
          Thumb Up


          Well, Maggie DID pay off the national debt, before the morally bankrupt intellectual pygmies (collectively called the Labour party) dragged us right back into the ordure...

      2. Tequila Joe
        Thumb Up

        @Tony S - Seriously? First class.

        Well Govt should "spends money on roads, rail, armed forces, schools, health " rather than on ideological nonsense and spin-doctors, but other than that First Class.

        Now please take a lead pipe and explain it to the HoC and any other politicians you meet.

  8. Lottie

    It wouldn't work anyway

    If texting came to be too expensive, most folk with PAYG smartphones would use their online minutes or (and I assume not just Orange do this) the £1 for a day of internet deals and use email, twitter and Facebook to chat to their friends instead of txting.

    As for the rest, how does the extra tax work on my unlimited texts bundle?


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