Saturday, 18 April 2009

First the bankers, next the tax evaders

I joined "The other taxpayers alliance" on Facebook recently - a useful opposition force to that motley collection of very rich people in the Taxpayers Alliance who dont want to pay any tax.
They directed me to a meeting at the TUC congress house which I went to on Thursday. It was organised by Compass, the left of centre pressure group within the Labour party who are supporting John Cruddas, MP for Dagenham and their main hope for rescuing the party from it's dead end neoliberal trajectory.
This was a significant meeting as Angela Eagle - a cabinet minister was there, mostly to listen although she did give a brief speech at the beginning.
The message of the meeting was clear, it is time to close in on the tax evaders and the tax avoiders. Although the number of rich people is small as a proportion of the population, they withhold far more of their capital than do those at the other end, the so-called "benefit scroungers".
The opinion poll evidence was clear, public opinion is now wanting the loopholes to be closed. The next budget is on Tuesday. Compass may well be pushing on an opening door.
I hope the Liberal Democrats take the opportunity to pre-empt them on this, this weekend. Vince Cable and Nick Clegg often refer to this injustice in their speeches - it is perfectly consistent with what they have said all along, unlike Labour who only now are thinking about it, and the Tories who have long been financed by tax evaders and dodgers for services rendered. At the meeting our attention was drawn to the activities of Micheal Ashcroft, one of the major Tory donors and still involved with banks in Belize and the Tory party.
I was impressed with the meeting for it's caution. The right wing position (supported by "New Labour" under the influence of Rupert Murdoch) of attacking benefits scroungers still wins votes for Labour/Tory and that was recognised - although not agreed with. A crude "attack the rich" position was not supported by the meeting, with the possible exception of a certain Richard Murphy, who urged us not to be timid.
Richard Murphy is the man who set up the Tax Justice Network (TJN). He is a passionate, colourful individual who knows a lot about his subject, but also has his foibles. The main one being his supersized ego. It is no surprise that he started this group - it is hard to imagine he would be able to join someone else's. It is hard to imagine the TJN can represent anything other than what Richard Murphy thinks at any particular time. Most of what he said fitted in well with what the audience wanted to hear, but he did acheive the remarkable feat of actually being heckled at a meeting organised and attended by people who expected to agree with him.
Well that is an aside for now.
The left have some grounds to be optimistic that public opinion will now support greater redistribution of wealth. Our main challenge is that that in itself will not prevent the rise of the far right, who may also seek to cash in on this, and who are likely to benefit most from the failures of neoliberal economic policy and for other reasons such as the threat of terrorism.

No comments: