Labour MP Alistair Darling was given a standing ovation at the Scottish Tory Party conference in Stirling today. Both parties are welcome to each other, of course.
I'll confine my laughter to this particular piece of idiocy from his speech, as reported in the Scotsman:
A shared currency would also render the SNP's plan to undercut UK corporation tax by 3% impossible, he said.
I've touched on this subject before, but it clearly needs repeating. A shared currency does not mean having to set identical or near-identical rates of tax. If poor Alistair thinks that a 3% differential in the rate of corporation tax is "impossible" he needs to take a look at what is happening beyond the boundaries of his narrow little world.
These are the rates of corporate tax in the countries that use the euro:
Montenegro ... 9.0%
Cyprus ... 10.0%
Ireland ... 12.5%
Portugal ... 12.5% to 27.5% (mean 15%)
Slovenia ... 17.0% (reducing to 15% in 2015)
Estonia ... 21.0%
Slovakia ... 23.0%
Finland ... 24.5% (reducing to 20.0% in 2014)
Austria ... 25.0%
Greece ... 25.0%
Netherlands ... 25.0%
Luxembourg ... 28.6% on commercial activity (5.7% on IP and royalties)
Spain ... 30.0% (but 28% in the four Basque provinces)
Italy ... 31.4%
Germany ... 30.2% to 33.3% (15.8% federal plus 14.4% to 17.5% regional)
France ... 33.3% (15% for small businesses)
Belgium ... 34.0%
Malta ... 35.0%
The largest differential is 26%, which is nearly nine times greater than the 3% difference proposed by the SNP. And there are considerable variations between geographical neighbours: the difference between Portugal's 15.0% and Spain's 30.0%, or Slovenia's 17.0% and Italy's 31.4%, is about five times greater than the 3% difference proposed by the SNP.
But if a red mist of insanity descends at the mere mention of the euro, look at the other currency unions in the world. Does Togo need to have the same tax regime as Benin? Does Grenada need to have the same tax regime as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines? Does Panama need to have the same tax regime as the USA?
In fact, there can be differences in the rate corporate taxation within states. In Germany the local rates of corporate tax vary by 3.1%, and the four Basque provinces have a rate that is 2% lower than in Spain. Every state in the USA sets its own corporate taxes in addition to federal corporate taxes.
Closer to home, the six counties are still looking to set a rate of corporate tax that is lower than in the remainder of the current UK.
As Alistair Darling used to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, it's rather more likely that he was telling barefaced lies rather than speaking out of ignorance ... and that no doubt explains why the Tories were so pleased with what he said.