Today sees the launch of the Robin Hood Tax campaign by many of the key organisations responsible for the Make Poverty History campaign 5 years ago, including Oxfam, the TUC, ActionAid and Save the Children, backed by Comic Relief founder and film maker Richard Curtis.
LCID would like to urge all party members to get behind the campaign, and at our Launch event last week called on Labour to back a Financial Transaction Tax in our next manifesto.
Essentially, it’s a Tobin Tax, but this time with a more catchy name. Catchier still, they see the tax being split 50:50 between helping fight global poverty and climate change abroad – but also stopping cuts in crucial public services and reducing poverty in the UK.
This could ensure the campaign gets widespread support from a public angry with bankers. A YouGov poll in November found that almost twice as many people would support (53 per cent) than oppose (28 per cent) a financial transaction tax on the basis that some of the money raised would be used to help people hit by the economic crisis in the UK and abroad.
Just 0.05% from international bankers’ transactions could raise up to £250 billion a year, meaning we could:
- Meet the Government’s target to halve child poverty (£4bn).
- End the benefit trap that makes it too expensive for people to leave welfare and return to work (£2.7bn).
- Protect schools and hospitals at home and abroad under threat of cuts.
- Meet the Millennium Development Goals to cut child deaths by two-thirds, maternal mortality by two-thirds and tackle malaria and HIV/AIDS.
- Provide resources to enable a deal to be done on tackling climate change.
The key question, however, is how much traction this transaction tax will gain, both in the UK and globally.
What will be the response from all three UK parties? We hope the Labour will strongly back this campaign, and look forward to the response from Douglas Alexander. At out Launch last week, Mr Alexander was broadly supportive but stressed the need for global backing.
The coalition stress that unilateral action could be taken, arguing that “the UK Government and European Union should start extending transaction taxes already in existence, such as the UK’s 0.5 per cent stamp duty on shares.” However, as they readily acknowledge, a global agreement is desirable.
The Make Poverty History campaign in 2005 showed both the benefits and limitations of unilateral action. At the G8 debt was cancelled and UK aid substantially increased through a combination of leadership by the Labour Government and an active civil society ensuring support from the UK public. Meanwhile, the failure at the World Trade Organisation talks the same year was partly because there was not enough pressure from civil society in the US and across the EU outside of the UK. The organisations involved will be smart to that, already stressing that the Robin Hood Tax will be a global campaign.
Labour Campaign for International Development wish them the best of luck. This campaign – along with the Global Poverty Promise campaign to enshrine 0.7% in law – are vital in ensuring we continue the leadership shown by Labour in the last 13 years and meet the UK’s obligations in the fight against global poverty.
by David Taylor