Tom Watson handily reminds me why I left Labour

by Stephen Tall on March 20, 2014

I’ll be honest. I don’t yet know what I think about the Coalition’s plans to liberalise pensions.

I like the idea people should have greater control over their own money; I’d like to know more about how the government proposes to deal with the moral hazard of those few retirees who splurge their pension pots, lack the means to live adequately, and end up on state benefits.

But one thing I do know. Tom Watson’s state-knows-best knee-jerk blog-post against it sums up the attitude that made me leave the Labour Party 15 years ago:

When you pay into a pension the state doesn’t treat that like it does other income or even other savings – it gives you special tax breaks, special rewards and special protections.

Note the assumption there: the state has first call on the income you earn. Only once the state grants you special privileges do your earnings become truly your own. The left’s presumption that it’s for the state to bestow rights to the individual (rather than the reverse) is a handy reminder of why I’m a liberal.