Dave Nellist outlines the socialist view on the HSBC tax evasion scandal
Over recent days we have received dozens of emails from residents of the Coventry North West constituency regarding the HSBC tax evasion scandal. The emails were sent to all candidates that have announced they are standing in the General Election via the 38 Degrees campaign website. The Socialist Party welcomes the opportunity to state our position on this, and if you agree with our response please fill in the form at the bottom of the article. Remember nothing will change unless we get organised!
The email that was sent to us is below, followed by the response from Dave Nellist
Dear Dave Nellist, Parvez Akhtar, and Mr Geoffrey Robinson MP,
I’m concerned about the recent revelations that HSBC has been helping the super-rich dodge their tax, and that the government has not been acting to stop this.
As a prospective parliamentary candidate in my area, can you let me know what you pledge to do to crack down on tax dodging and prevent scandals like HSBC from happening again?
Response from Dave
It is an absolute disgrace that these individuals and companies have behaved in this way, whilst at the same time ordinary people in Coventry and across the country face austerity cuts that will see levels of public spending taking back to the 1930s.
We only have to pose the question that if these millionaires and billionaires had paid their taxes, how many of the cuts that are due to take place in Coventry could be avoided? For example our libraries, lollipop ladies, community and children’s centres which are all under threat to name just a few key services.
The rich have got away for this for far too long, little surprise perhaps when successive governments have been so friendly to big business at the expense of the majority of us. As we have seen there are a number of Tory donors who have been caught up in this, and of course Labour have come out recently and said they are “furiously, passionately, aggressively pro-business”, so I do not think they can be trusted to act.
Linked to this is the ability to collect tax. In the last few years the government has axed between 38,000 and 40,000 jobs in Revenues and Customs as it carries out its swingeing cuts in the public sector. It has also closed tax offices meaning HMRC no longer has an network of local offices to provide advice and ensure tax compliance across the UK. How can any present or future government (Labour or Conservative) say they are serious about collecting tax and stopping the obscene tax avoidance if it sacks the very people who are able to collect it?
The Socialist Party, which is standing as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in this election, will support and demand measures that close all tax loopholes and tax havens. We will fight for the rich to pay more tax and would support any measures such as a ‘Robin Hood / Tobin’ tax. We will also campaign for the cutbacks in Revenue and Customs to be reversed to enable tax dodgers to be pursued. We also think we do not have a progressive tax system in this country, which is something we would fight for.
However we think there are also wider issues here.
I suspect the only thing that makes HSBC different, is that they got caught! The whole banking system is rotten, based on gambling and speculation. If I put £5 on a horse in the 3.30, and it came in last, you would not be expected to refund my gambling. But that’s what the banks have got away with. Unprecedented gambling and speculation which spectacularly crashed in 2008, and triggered the recession that so many ordinary people are still suffering from. The whole banking system needs reorganising and rationally planning. But you can’t plan what you don’t control, and you don’t control what you don’t own. Large amounts of Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland are in public ownership, but not under democratic control. Nationalisation should be extended to the whole banking system and tight regulation then enforced in the interests of the millions not the millionaires.
Britain is not a poor country as this scandal illustrates. The problem is we have an economic system, backed up by the main establishment parties, which means vast wealth is concentrated at the very top. The key point is that the minority at the top own and control this wealth, whilst most of us struggle to get by. We think we need a radical change, whereby ownership and control of the main resources in society are put in the hands of ordinary people, and human need (such as the NHS, decent housing and free education) are put before private greed.
Thank you for contacting us and taking the time to read this response. I would encourage you to come to our election launch on Wednesday 25th February, 7.30pm at the Methodist Hall, bottom of Hertford Street where I and others will outline the socialist challenge in this election.
If you want to read more about our campaigns and policies please visit the websites at the bottom of this email, and if you would like to talk about the issues I have raised please call our campaign hotline on 07530 429441 or feel free to respond to this email.