Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The people of Greece are showing us the way to a better, fairer more democratic society

The people of Greece have spoken and cried a resounding no to the politics of the elitists of the EU. Their democratically elected government, exercised democracy by allowing the people to decide whether or not to accept the EU deal. Despite the familiar tactics of scaremongering, fear and threats from right wing politicians right across the EU, the people of Greece have rejected the terms of more austerity from the EU, ECB and IMF. For the first time ever, the people have stood up to the bullies and said enough is enough, no longer will we bow to your impossible demands. Their decision takes Greece and their creditors into unchartered territory, as Ireland, Spain, Italy & Portugal all accepted the terms of their creditors terms for a bailout. Nobody knows what will happen next. Right wing politicians are spreading threats that the EU will eject Greece from the Euro, but it does not have the mandate to do so. Those on the left are calling for some of the Greek debt to be written off and a new repayment agreement being drawn up over a longer period of time. Without a mandate and with Britain holding an in/out referendum on the EU by 2017, it seems unlikely the EU will want to rock the boat by expelling Greece from the Euro.

What is clear from the Greek referendum is that democracy works. It was right that the Greek prime minister let the people decide whether or not to accept the deal on offer. Although completely unfamiliar in modern British politics and across the world, power should ultimately lay with the people. Decisions about the kind of society we want to live in should be made by the people, rather than centralised bureaucrats in government. We would not be living under a ideological program of austerity in Britain, while the richest in our society are given tax cuts if we lived in a true democracy where the people make the decisions. The resounding victory in Greece, clears the way for other EU nations to make a stand against enforced austerity, in favour of a more democratic and sensible approach to our economic issues.

In a more democratic society the people would decide the rates of taxes payable. We would empower our tax collector with the resources it needs to collect all taxes that are due. Obtaining a licence to trade in Britain would come with a commitment from all companies to pay all taxes in full and on time. Directors of corporations would be made liable for the corporations’ actions and those not paying the taxes due would be dealt with using the full force of the law. If a corporation tries to avoid paying tax by artificially shifting their profits to an overseas secrecy jurisdiction, the UK company directors would be prosecuted for non payment of tax. We could use the proceeds of crime act to seize the companies UK assets until the tax owed is paid and if it is not, sell the assets in order to reimburse the public purse. Where a bank is suspected of illegal trading such as rigging the rate of libor, the SFO would be called in to investigate. Individuals found to have participated, would be arrested and prosecuted in a court of law, as would directors of the bank who can be proven to have known of the illegal rigging activity. Again, the banks assets could be frozen and sold off to compensate the public purse for any estimated losses. The ultimate sanction, reserved for repeat offenders would be to withdraw their trading licence, making it impossible for them to trade in Britain.

It is wholly undemocratic that HMRC are not accountable to parliament. In a new democratic society HMRC would be made accountable to a government minister of taxation. The minister would therefore be accountable for the operation of HMRC and ensuring it is enabled to collect all taxes that are due on time. With the right number of staff and other resources, HMRC would be empowered to tackle the estimated £104billion in lost tax revenue through avoidance and evasion in 2014. It would reopen the network of local tax offices across the country, allowing people to have their concerns resolved face to face with a member of staff. The current practice of business friendly relationships with large multi national corporations would be abolished and those corporations who do not pay the taxes they owe would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The mega rich and large corporations would no longer view HMRC as a soft touch tax collector, while being over zealous with individuals and small and medium sized businesses. It would be a firm but fair tax collector, treating all it’s customers the same.

Individuals who do not pay their taxes would be treated in exactly the same way as corporations. Through a public register of ownership and improved tax agreements with other nations, anyone identified as hiding money overseas from the taxman would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. There would be no more cosy deals like was seen in the recent case of HSBC Swiss bank, where eleven hundred British nationals were found to have been evading tax by hiding money in Swiss bank accounts. The law would apply equally to everyone, regardless of their wealth or position in society. The people would set the applicable rates of tax, and everyone would be expected to make their contribution to society. Tax revenue would be spent on a public education system, a national health service, publicly owned systems of transport, a welfare system, through which we would look after those who are unable to look after themselves for whatever reason and any other provision as determined by the people.

All tax revenues and spending would be made freely available online by local constituency councils. The spending of public money would be open and transparent for all to see. The people would determine the salaries of all public sector workers and members of the local constituency council would vote on any proposal for a bonus to be paid to a public sector worker. The national minimum wage would be raised to a living wage and enforced by law. Any employer found to be paying anyone eligible to work in Britain less than the minimum wage would be prosecuted, with the ultimate sanction being the removal of that employers trading licence.

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