Grass-roots policies can get this country moving again
THIS month saw two Pragmatic Radicalism Top of the Policies events, drawing a lively crowd to their policy in the pub fringe in Manchester during Labour Party conference, while in Westminster ‘invigorating’ policies were pitched during the industry Top of the Policies event, according to shadow minister for competitiveness and enterprise Iain Wright MP, a compelling Chair.
Looking at how to get this country moving again, the industry event was sponsored by EEF the manufacturers’ organisation, Labour’s Finance and Industry Group (LFIG) and Community, bringing together members and supporters of the Labour Party and trades unions, with the winning policy being Pay Where You Earn (PWYE) coming from Equity and LFIG executive member and Labour Councillor Phil McCauley. McCauley quotes revenue of £80 Bn being possible from a PWYE scheme.
“PragRad provides a unique environment for leading-edge thinkers to sense-check their developing policy ideas. Labour is reinventing one nation politics with progressive values. It’s inspiring to know that Labour is rediscovering ideology after a fairly long period of idolatry,” Cllr Phil McCauley.
In the UK, numerous examples of famous companies and brands overtly paying very little tax are constantly appearing in the public domain and just this month Starbucks was named and shamed by shocking tax avoidance revelations.
“I believe we must act to end tax avoidance,” says McCauley, who made a storming presentation on the night. “Once again, as the spotlight has been shone on an embarrassed corporation, we’ve seen a litany of familiar excuses wheeled out to excuse not paying their fair share. This time, as well as the usual ‘we’ve done nothing illegal’ line, part of Starbucks defence was they paid their fair share of tax via national insurance contributions for their employees!” decries McCauley.
This waves away the entire basis of corporation tax, which should be based on companies’ profits. Rather than attacking the disabled, the elderly, unemployed, the sick, children and the poor, let’s start with the big beasts of industry to rebalance the economy and the moral compass of this country.
Companies who enjoy the custom of British residents and their disposable income and labour should be required to pay their fair share in corporation tax, on all revenues derived within the UK. The government should apply the same rules to companies as the legal and social responsibility placed on individuals through PAYE.
Calls for tax justice are usually met with familiar voices from the right, complaining about the danger of pushing companies to stop doing business in the UK. Or suggest the country will somehow become less productive.
Back to McCauley: “I believe we must act to end tax avoidance now. Hard working families can’t simply opt out of PAYE; it’s time for PAY WHERE YOU EARN, a simple idea which is capable of delivering billions in ‘rightful’ taxation and ultimately could provide a budget surplus.”
To those who say Companies will leave the UK if tax avoidance is tackled, McCauley points to consumer power: “I say this: will Vodafone no longer have customers here? Will Boots and Starbucks close their outlets? Will Facebook stop ‘liking’ UK users? Of course not. But all of them think it’s quite proper to use outrageous legal accounting duplicity to reduce their fair share of tax.
“To UK company directors who pay themselves via dividends to reduce their PAYE costs I say: this is equally obnoxious. The working class has paid its fair share. It’s time for the ruling class to pay its fair share too.”
Recouping corporation tax should be part of UK PLC’s revival plan, in dealing with the deficit and as a key aspect of alternative solutions to savage cuts to services, as I discussed in ‘There Is An Alternative: Snubbing TINA’ in PragRad’s first pamphlet.
I am working on other realistic alternatives that are palatable to the Labour movement AND enough of the electorate to win a general election, without which our ideas are futile. Please get in touch if you wish to discuss this or offer proposals through Pragmatic Radicalism via firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted in: Blog Posts |Tagged with: industry, Labour, new thinking