I'M very much of the opinion that working with someone within a coalition of mutual agreement is better than shunning them because you might oppose them, however strongly, on something else. Some of the best and most effective policy work I’ve been involved with in the past few years has been with members from Scottish Labour.

But I increasingly despair at the state of UK Labour under Keir Starmer. The latest U-turn on wealth taxation must be yet another blow to any in the party who don’t want to see them continue to morph into The Capital Party.

READ MORE: Questions for Scottish Labour after UK party U-turns on wealth tax

Wealth taxation is a vital part of ensuring our society remains equal and just. Excessive wealth hoarding is corrosive to the fabric of that society. It divides and distances us from each other. It encourages those with wealth to seek (and gain) power and influence over our democracy far beyond the power of the single vote they have. It inflates the value of assets and denies their use to the rest of us in ways that can be seen from the housing crisis through to even Scotland’s "Right to Roam" across our own land being eroded in places where power and wealth demands that parks in Edinburgh be securely padlocked against entry by us without the wealth to own the key. And, of course, the very bedrock of capitalism itself is based on the principle that those who have access to capital and thus own assets can extract the value from them that is generated not by their own efforts, but by the labour of those who do not own them.

And in Scotland ...

Scotland’s patterns of wealth are somewhat different from those of the UK as a whole (by which, I generally mean London and the south east where the vast bulk of those assets are hoarded).

While we do have expensive properties in Scotland, it’s on an entirely different scale from London. Looking at property listings as I write this, if you happen to have a spare £5 million sitting down the back of the couch just now you could buy a four bedroom flat in Mayfair. Or you could buy a 25-bedroom castle in Dornoch, and to buy an entirely separate 17-bedroom castle in Cupar with enough left over for quite the moving-in party. We also don’t have the same amount of wealth locked up in moveable assets like art (unless someone is planning on hiding some in our new freeports … ) or intangible assets like shareholdings. What we do have, however, is plenty of land and that’s something that can be taxed, whether the owner lives in Motherwell or Monaco.

So my plea goes instead to Scottish parties of any colour who care about a fairer and more equal society. There are two policies we could do right now, within the scope of devolution, to show that Scotland is serious about being a country that works for all of us.

READ MORE: Michael Russell: The time has come to turbocharge Scottish land reform

What we need to do now

The first is to reform council tax. That £2.5 million castle in Dornoch is worth 40 times as much as my Council Tax Band A house, but if it was being used as a private residence (it’s currently a hotel) then it would only pay four times as much council tax (less, as its surrounding land would not be included in the tax). The minor tweaks currently being proposed by the Scottish Government simply aren’t enough. We need a property tax based on a percentage of the actual value of the home.

The National: The Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood, photographed from Salisbury Crags

The second policy is a land tax. As said, that castle actually comes with a large untaxed estate so a property tax that taxes buildings but not land would allow landowners to continue to store their wealth there. Schemes like Land Value Tax (taxing land based on a theoretical value of what the land could produce) are complex and difficult to estimate but simply extending the property tax to cover land as well would be easy – the market value of the building plus land is right there on the estate agent’s website. Taking both together, under Common Weal’s scheme (designed to be “revenue neutral” compared to council tax on buildings and to bring in extra by taxing land), a house like that castle wouldn’t pay £3500 in tax. It’d owe £15,750 and a house like mine would owe about half what it currently does.

Wealth inequality hurts everyone (including the wealthy, who miss out on the value of community). If the UK parties are going to support and increase inequality then Scotland must show that we can use the tools we have to make our country fairer, more equal and one that works for all of us, not just those who own far too much of it.