Unite General Secretary says ‘Time to Fix the System’

Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite has written of his support for a Robin Hood Tax.

The Robin Hood tax is a simple idea; the financial sector was instrumental in causing the greatest recession in a generation, so it’s about time it paid its fair share in sorting out the mess that has been created. And proponents of the tax say the funds generated – possibly as much as £250 billion a year – would not just be used to grow the global economy, but to protect the poorest and most vulnerable at home, to help developing countries hit by the crisis and to fight the challenge of climate change. That’s a real long term legacy for generations to come

We know that the Robin Hood tax is currently being blocked by UK prime minister David Cameron, he needs to ignore the banking lobby and listen to the people. If you haven’t already taken action click here.

Support the Robin Hood Tax – now is the moment!

After years of hard campaigning the Robin Hood Tax has its best chance of implementation. At the start of November, G20 leaders will meet in Cannes, France and could agree to introduce a Robin Hood Tax.

Germany and France stand in support but the Conservative-led government and their friends in the city are trying to wreck it.

They are even threatening to stop a compromise that would allow countries in favour to push ahead while the UK stays outside the system. The Conservative-led government continue on this tack even though the arguments against the FTT are crumbling.

Bill Gates now supports a financial transactions tax and has pointed out the UK’s stamp duty on share transactions as a clear example that FTTs do not need to be global to work.

The economist Jeffery Sachs has written to George Osborne telling him to agree to a FTT and our Honorary Co-President Glenys Kinnock has written about her support for it in the Guardian.

Now is the time that pressure could make a difference. A financial transactions tax, with the revenues shared between protection for public services and tackling poverty at home and funds for climate and international development programmes abroad.

But this Conservative Government’s cosy relationship with the city – for which he is already cutting corporation tax – is blocking this progressive move. We can’t let that happen.

Please add your support to the campaign by taking the actions by joining with Avaaz members in the UK and phoning George Osborne, and then sending a message to David Cameron.

Miliband and Balls need to be more vocal in support of the Robin Hood Tax

By Vaughan Gething AM (Labour and Co-operative, Cardiff South and Penarth) – First published on Left Foot Forward

The ‘Robin Hood Tax’ – a tiny tax on financial transactions which could generate billions to fight poverty – may have seemed a far-fetched financial compensation dream only a few years ago.

The-Robin-Hood-TaxGlobal debt relief used to be seen as a pipe dream – yet huge progress on that subject was made over the last decade. Over recent months Robin’s tax has gained global credibility, momentum and support and is only a step or two away from becoming a reality.

Labour should be at the forefront of arguing for its introduction. Robin’s tax could ensure that the poorest in Wales, the UK and abroad benefit massively, at the same time as helping shape a financial sector that works for society, not the other way around.

The idea of a tiny tax on financial transactions – such as trades in shares, bonds or currency – has been around for many years. It dates back to the original proposal for what was then called a ‘Tobin Tax’ more than thirty years ago.

Experts have shown that even a very small tax of as little as 0.05% could raise £250 billion globally per year. Nobody serious disputes that a tiny tax could raise huge and regular revenue sums.

Watch this short video to see how:

It would also help dampen the type of casino capitalism that has been described as “socially useless” by Adair Turner, head of the UK’s most powerful regulator, the Financial Services Authority. A real but obvious example of this ‘useless’ behaviour can be seen in the high-frequency trading markets, where traders often hold stocks for as little as 11 seconds.

Recent weeks have seen a flurry of activity – with a range of proposals being put on the table. These range from a new draft law proposed by the European Commission – a joint proposal from right wing administrations in Germany and France – and there is even a bill being introduced in the US Senate.

At the same time, 1,000 leading economists have given their backing, countries from Finland to Spain across Europe have made their support clear together with rising global economic players like Argentina; Bill Gates has spoken of the importance of using the resources raised by such a tax to tackle poverty and global challenges like climate change.

But despite this wide coalition of support, chancellor George Osborne has said he will fightthe European proposals for a financial transaction tax and insists that the idea will only work if adopted globally – whilst doing nothing to ensure this happens.

The insistence on a global tax scheme is a poorly veiled excuse to disguise a desire to do absolutely nothing at all. It wasn’t long ago at all that Osborne and Vince Cable were calling for bankers to be made to pay for the global financial crisis they helped to create.

Labour needs to come out and tackle the UK government’s misleading claim this is just a ‘Brussels tax’.

The tax is in fact being discussed primarily in the G20, rather than the EU. In any case there is no need for the revenues from a European tax to be paid to the EU budget (as the EC has proposed). Supporters of the tax like Germany have in fact argued strongly against this proposal.

Britain could benefit enormously from the revenues of a uniform EU tax paid at a national level, given the size of the City of London and the UK financial sector. The honest truth is that major financial players need to have bases in Europe.

These are not business that will flit from one jurisdiction to another in the way that some manufacturers race to the bottom for ever lower wages. Wage restraint is after all not a feature of global financial institutions.

We could use the resources form an international tax collected nationally here at home to tackle the impact of the financial and economic crisis on the poorest and most vulnerable. We would still then have significant sums left over for us to remember our responsibilities to the poorest abroad.

The UK already has one of the oldest and most successful financial transaction taxes in operation – stamp duty on share transactions – which raises almost £4 billion per year. Arguments against introducing a Robin Hood Tax look increasingly like the result of furious lobbying from London financiers.

Ed Miliband has already indicated his broad sympathies for introducing the tax – but he should now go further and give it his unequivocal backing with a national collection mechanism. He and shadow chancellor Ed Balls should be putting pressure on George Osborne and David Cameron to go to next month’s G20 summit in France as leaders, not laggards.

How Labour accounts for its policies on the financial sector while in government is an important debate to be had. However, it is even more important the party has a clear view on the sort of financial sector we want to see in the future.

When one estimate has shown total global profits and bonuses for all banks in 2011 are still likely to be between $600bn and $1 trillion, supporting a tiny tax on their transactions is a fair way forward. The alternative is that ordinary people pay more in taxes including increased VAT. Ed Balls has rightly argued the coalition’s VAT rise is regressive and hurts the poorest most. Before the election even David Cameron agreed VAT is regressive.

The UK government needs to rethink its position on this tax urgently as we approach the crucial G20 summit in France next month.

The Labour leadership needs to demonstrate in practical terms how our progressive values translate into action. This is an opportunity to do just that.

Labour should be bold in piling on the pressure by joining the band of ‘merry’ men and women backing the Robin Hood Tax.

International Development at #Lab10

Labour Party Conference 2010 saw LCID out in force, popping along to as many events as we could in our t-shirts and signing more people up. Here are a few highlights.

First was the election of former Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband as Labour Leader. His personal commitment to the issue was evident when we interview him during the leadership campaign, and it was great he choose to highlight Labour’s record on international development in his first speech:

“The old thinking told us that the challenges of the world were too big and our country too small to make a difference.

But thanks to our leadership around the world, development spending is now heading towards our goal, forty million more children are going to school each day, and two hundred million are protected from malaria. And that would never have happened without the leadership of Gordon Brown as Chancellor and then as Prime Minister.”

The Robin Hood Tax was on the agenda at the Conference, a campaign Ed backed in our video interview, which you can view below, and then have a read of this article by our friends at Left Foot Forward laying out how Ed should lead on this issue.

We were really pleased to have chaired Christian Aid’s event: Beyond Aid: what role for tax in international development? Speakers included former Treasury Minister Stephen Timms MP, who pushed tax evasion up the agenda when in Government, and Int. Dev. Select Committee member Anas Sawar MP. Tax evasion currently robs poor countries more than $160bn a year – you can take action against it here. Meanwhile, we popped in to the White Ribbon Alliance’s ‘Mum’s Cafe‘, promoting Sarah Brown’s campaign for safer motherhood.

In the Britain in the World session, Douglas Alexander MP, Shadow International Development Secretary, spoke alongside guests from Oxfam, talking about the floods in Pakistan (click link to donate to DEC appeal), and Christian Aid talking about the impact of climate change in Africa. Douglas said;

“I am proud of what Labour was able to do in Government to improve our response to emergencies. As part of trebling our aid budget, we were able to allocate more resources for responding to disasters – from the terrible Tsunami to the Haiti earthquake.

We were also one of the key governments fighting for improvements in the way the United Nations and other global agencies respond. Thanks to our work including by my colleague Gareth Thomas – we pushed for the establishment of the Central Emergency Response Fund at the UN – a rapid response fund, that ensures some funding is always available to respond immediately to disasters, rather than passing the begging cap around donors, when time is absolutely of the essence and lives need to be saved.

We should welcome what the government has done in the way it has provided significant British funds quickly to Pakistan to match the generosity of the public. But I was concerned to read leaked documents this summer that suggest our promise to increase funding for the CERF – that key UN disaster response fund – was on a list of pledges that the government apparently plan to drop. That would be a backwards step.”

Finally, LCID member Lee Butcher gives his review of Labour Party Conference in this Audioboo:

Leadership candidates back the Robin Hood Tax

The Labour Campaign for International Development has supported the Robin Hood Tax campaign for a financial transactions tax from the start. We asked all five leadership candidates their opinion on the Robin Hood Tax when we interviewed them recently.

You can watch their answers below, and see all five interviews in full here. To keep up on the latest on from us here at LCID, join our email list by clicking on the icon blow. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter:

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