Dec 20 2011

This fight against corporate tax avoidance straddles left-right divide

Posted by: Nick Shaxson in: Thoughts

For evidence backing up my headline, look at the current front page headlines in two right-wing UK dailies, concerning a damning report by the UK parliament’s Public Accounts Committee:

Why double standards by the taxman mean you pay more – Telegraph

Big firms let off £25BILLION in taxes: As families are chased for every penny, corporate giants dodge their massive bills – Daily Mail

And Liberal Conspiracy notes this point:

“Even the right have finally started taking corporate tax avoidance seriously.”

But that’s not quite right: in fact parts of the right have taken this seriously for quite some time. See Laurie Holmes’ dogged reporting on this subject in the Mail (here, for instance,) and there’s plenty more out there that I don’t have time to dig up right now, unfortunately.

Like the #Occupy movement, which has taken an agenda of protesting against financial looting and the corruption of capitalism, and found supporters on both left and right, the UK Uncut movement has done something very similar. People like Hugh Pym of the BBC (and many other deluded reporters, it has to be said,) who call these protesters ‘anti-capitalist’ are simply those who do not get it yet. I have no problem at all with self-described ‘anti-capitalists’ being part of this movement – the more, the merrier, I think – but anyone who describes these protests as ‘anti-capitalist’ is guilty of attempting to marginalise this powerful, broad-based, intellectually coherent and deep-rooted emerging movement.

No, Uncut and Occupy aren’t about left or right. This newly emerging focus is, as Treasure Islands explains, and as I said in a speech to protesters at St Paul’s Cathedral recently, most fundamentally about the corruption of capitalism. The fight against corruption isn’t the exclusive preserve of the left or of the right. It’s the preserve of right-thinking people, everywhere.

Which is why it is so threatening to the current establishment.

And why this represents the kernel of a new kind of politics.

And why this will be so powerful.

Finally, to a quote by the economist J.K. Galbraith:

All successful revolutions are the kicking in of a rotten door

And few doors are as rotten as this one.

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