Let’s do some guessing. The UK General Election is almost upon us. I have found this election probably the least inspiring of any I have engaged with. The truth is not being told, the numbers don’t add up, disappointment lies ahead.

To lighten things up let me predict what the outcome is going to be both in terms of the election result in the UK and Scotland and what happens afterwards.

First the results.

In the UK overall, Labour is going to achieve a win of historic scale, the Conservatives will have a dreadful result but not as bad as current predictions show because Reform will fall back as people realise that voting for it will, in the majority of cases, only benefit Labour.

The Conservatives will get decently over 100 seats but not as many as 150. Labour will not get to 400. The LibDems will get over 60, Reform will get 3 (including Nigel Farage in Clacton). The Greens will get 2.

Nigel Farage looks set to win ClactonNigel Farage looks set to win Clacton (Image: free)

In Scotland, the LibDems will double to at least 4, probably 5. The Conservatives will fall back and will get 5 at most. The Greens and Reform will get nothing. Labour will get 28, the SNP will get 20.

Labour and the LibDems will be pleased, everybody else will not.

Labour win the day with a majority so large that factional infighting within their ranks won’t take long to emerge.

The unions will expect a full suite of stupid “workers rights” but will be rather disappointed as Starmer and Reeves actually mean what they say on prioritising economic growth.

The imposition of VAT on private school fees will prove far harder than Labour expects. People think VAT is not charged on private school fees as a result of some special exemption - this is untrue, no VAT is charged because education, like books and food, is regarded as good for society and therefore exempt from VAT. How you exempt universities and local authority technical courses while only hitting private schools is difficult to see. Expect stiff opposition and court cases and it’s 50/50 that Labour will eventually have to give up.

The NHS and education will expect more money and will get it but with some heavy strings attached. Wes Streeting actually means it about reforming the NHS in England and there will be a lot of squeaking as more of the delivery of health services is done by the private sector in order to improve efficiency and create extra capacity.


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The economic numbers do not add up, debt is too high and rising, public services need investment and tax is at an all time level. A horrible triangle. Labour will want to spend more money and cannot sensibly borrow more. They hope that faster growth will lead to rising tax revenues but that faster growth is some way off. Taxes will have to rise and by quite a lot.

Labour have made a very specific promise in their manifesto: “Labour will not increase taxes on working people, which is why we will not increase National Insurance, the basic, higher or additional rates of income tax or VAT”.

As a result of this promise people have been hunting for other taxes which will be put up.

Capital Gains Tax is an obvious one, rates will be aligned with income tax. As long as the tax is levied only on real rather than nominal value increases then that is fair enough.

There should be a revaluation of private housing for council tax - what we have now is grossly distorted in favour of the south of England. Labour could go a step further and introduce a simple quasi-wealth tax on property instead of council tax. An annual charge at 1% of the value of your property would not break the economy and would raise a lot of money for local authorities - who desperately need it.

The main change though will come inside the big 3 - VAT, income tax, National Insurance. The amount of tax you raise is a function of rate multiplied by scope. Labour’s promise is focused solely on rates, they are leaving themselves free to expand the scope of these taxes.

There will be pressure to reform the NHSThere will be pressure to reform the NHS (Image: free)

Income tax is already a wide scope tax - not much income is free from it but there are a lot of reliefs and a heavy scaling back of the amount you can put into an ISA each year and adjustments to pension tax relief are probable. The “working people” phrase in the manifesto is the clue.

The VAT exemption on food could be restricted to basic items with, for example, a 5% tax applied to ready meals and unhealthy foods.

The greatest scope for increase lies with National Insurance. Employees' NI reduces from 8% to 2% at around an income of £50,000, you don’t pay NI if you are over retirement age and you don’t pay it on unearned income. Expect that all to change. A higher rate of NI will apply beyond an income of £50,000 and NI will be applied to all sources of income. This is the key lever which will raise the billions required to meet Labour’s plans.

Of course I might be wrong.

Guy Stenhouse is a notable figure in the Scottish financial sector. He has held various positions, including being the Managing Director of Noble Grossart, an independent merchant bank based in Edinburgh, until 2017