Tax can show you’re successful…

JK Rowling in today’s Times on tax…

“I chose to remain a domiciled taxpayer for a couple of reasons. The main one was that I wanted my children to grow up where I grew up, to have proper roots in a culture as old and magnificent as Britain’s; to be citizens, with everything that implies, of a real country, not free-floating ex-pats, living in the limbo of some tax haven and associating only with the children of similarly greedy tax exiles.

A second reason, however, was that I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism. On the available evidence, I suspect that it is Lord Ashcroft’s idea of being a mug”.

J.K. Rowling on welfare and patriotism


The Awful Policies of the Greens

After a Lib Dem councillor recently converted to Green, a former colleague wondered how he could do this given their awful policies!  So maybe it’s worth  spelling out just where the Greens are coming from recently. The environmental credentials go back to the early 70s when they were formed, but hand in hand the Greens have had an ever-evolving social policy based around greater democracy, equality and welfare across public life.

1. In the UK the richest 1% are extraordinarily rich compared to the rest of us.

2. This has happened in a remarkable way since 1979 and Thatcher coming to power. But it HAS NOT been turned around by 13 years of Labour. In fact, year by year, income inequality has worsened.

3. This can and must be rectified. The growth of excessive wealth is literally harmful to the rest of us. It can be reduced by reining in the ways it is made, chiefly by re-regulating finance. Great wealth should also be taxed properly so that all major needs are met across society: health, education, pensions, welfare, benefits where necessary.

4. But, we can’t do any of that without believing it – and having political parties that believe that too! We are very far from that being a mainstream POV. In fact the 3 major parties have sold out to the turbo-capitalism and won’t even re-regulate the banking sector directly responsible for the latest bubble and crash since 2008.

5. However, most people agree with most of these views. We should protect the NHS and keep it public. We should keep pension provision; we should tax great wealth properly. Once we have some traction for more healthy policies on wealth, income, proper taxation, regulating finance, etc, then we will have much greater ease in seeing how we effect the world – in terms of the amount we take from it AND not put back.

6. That’s what “eco” really means. It’s about balance. It’s a really simple concept EXCEPT that we are so out of ANY sort of balance or accountability for what the really greedy among us are doing, that anyone outside the Greens can hardly understand it anymore! We should have balance within our society. And balance with the wider world.

7. Most Greens actually easily understand this – and much more. Our ease with exploitation explains the 16 million deaths a year from hunger and simple diseases. This simply should not be happening in what is still a world of plenty. That huge amounts of human time, energy, money, transportation are simply wasted by so-called “free markets” all rigged through trade agreements dominated by rich countries, is reprehensible.

Further, many simple pleasures we take for granted are produced by child slaves. Eg, chocolate!

8. No wonder, if we are prepared to treat each other so wantonly, even to the extent of full-on wars over oil – no wonder we are even more wanton with other species, destroying the world’s forests, and over-fishing the oceans.

9. The Green Party – alone, it seems – says IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS! Trade can be much more localised at very little loss. Countries should all have the capacity – and actuality – of feeding their populations first. Energy should be more local – within countries – and on a more renewable basis. Cheap communications are just about available to all. Transport easily could be too.

10. Simply, the greatest cancer we suffer is the huge amount, comparatively, that the rich countries take from everywhere else, and, within those societies, the huge amount the 1% just takes – or commands – from everyone, here or abroad.

It’s time to put the balance back. In society. Between countries. Across the world.

The Violence in Society

I was speaking to a friend recently about last Saturday’s march.  She may not have known precisely what the marchers were marching for – despite being a very able professional –  beyond it being the unions “anticuts”.  She may not have known how large  it was as a demonstration, maybe second only to the Iraq one in size.

She may, also, not have heard of the Robin Hood Tax: she may not know there is NO tax on international finance deals despite these wrecking the global economy in 2008.  Despite being really proud to pay taxes herself,  she may not know that those on £150,000 and over have not paid their 50% tax for a year, or of the 13,000 jobs to be lost at HMRC, nor that most of this money won’t be recovered. But she certainly knew about the violence, the attacks on property and the thugs.

But there’s lies in all this. From the highest levels. And they will be repeated ad nauseam by people who should know better – or who choose not to. But we ALL should know better because we’re all targets of current government policies and hyping violence at a demo really aimed at them is their way out of having to answer for their own social violence.

In this Newsnight report, according to the nice female police Asst. Commissioner, there were arrests at this demo beating a record of 5 years for a public order event. She talks about the fear of customers as Fortnum & Mason was invaded by over 100 protesters from the group UKuncut.

The trouble is – there wasn’t any trouble!

The Guardian has video of a nice female police inspector, on the scene, saying they were “non-violent” and “sensible” (as confirmed by other independent reports like Green Party Adam Ramsay or this 15 year old girl’s account, and other video). The inspector even says on camera “that’s why people were kept in here” implying the police were dealing with actual violence outside and so prevented peaceful demonstrators leaving the shop!

Yet there were 149 charged with 138 arrested at F&M.  –  Just watch these charges disappear when it gets to court in a few months time! This is purely for headlines now! It’s propaganda. This was a peaceful sit-in that not even the shop has protested, nor were customers harassed or even prevented from shopping!

Only a few days ago MPs voted to support the No Fly Zone over Libya. Supposedly to defend the rebels there, only 13 of the 670 MPs voted against this. Really it was a rubber-stamping of the decision already taken by Cameron to back it. This despite polls showing the public very ambivalent about getting involved in Libya.

But  where’s the No Fly Zone over Gaza? There isn’t one. And there never will be one while Israel remains backed by America – no matter how many Palestinians suffer or die – or rebel.

Choosing to back the banks, choosing to cut public jobs, welfare, DLA, EMA, housing benefit, youth organisations, day care centres, essentially protects the rich and the powerful who will become richer and more powerful through these policies. They will get the money that is being “saved” – not some deficit balance!

The estimated total of one million jobs beginning to be lost by these policies (500,000 public sector jobs and another 500,000 estimated to be lost from knock-on effects) will have effects to last for years – not a few days of clearing up mess or replacing windows.

We must be aware of violence in all its forms – not just what the media, or the powerful who control them, choose to show us.

Or else we are the manipulated ones merely bowing to thought control in a democratic society.

The god that must be satisfied.

After the recent announcement that:  “… UK unemployment rose by 49,000 to almost 2.5 million in the three months to the end of November 2010, according to the latest Office for National Statistics figures.” – we are starkly reminded that the prospects are a million job losses over the next few years.

The ConDem cuts are estimated to cost 500,000 jobs in the public sector and a knock-on effect of 500,000 jobs in the private sector. Some commentators estimate 1.2 million jobs lost.

But the cuts are unnecessary. The Greens have been saying this for some time –  we all stood against them in 2010.

If we tax fairly we can halve the deficit by 2014 and even create a million jobs and training places.

In the last year the 1000 richest people in Britain INCREASED their wealth by £77 billion but yet the deficit is only £85 billion. Will they be taxed at a greater rate? No.

Adding insult to injury, over vthe past year, HMRC have failed to collect the 50% income tax due to the Treasury from those on £150,000 OR OVER! Due to being unable to process tax codes in time or some such feeble-minded excuse. This is scandalous.

Now, instead of a Robin Hood Tax, where a micro 0.1% tax on international finance trades would WIPE OUT the deficit, we get the Sheriff of Nottingham.

The ConDem millonaire-bankers plan will be the “tax heist of the century” where profits made abroad will no longer be subject to tax here.  This favours the banks in particular. This will cost tens of billions to the state and guess who will make up the shortfall?

This major attack on British civil society has been contrived by propagandising the deficit as a god that must be satisfied at all costs. By our sacrifice.

The high priests of all the major religions – Conservative,  Labour and Liberal Democrat all agree on this. They just disagree on the “scale and pace”.

Of course, as usual, the élite are exempt.

Belief in “mammon” isn’t a new religion. Today’s gods are the banks and “the bottom line”. Profit clearly comes before people. Wealth comes before “the wealth of the nation”, goods come before the Common Good.

Cast out are pagans and heretics such as the Greens and socialists, who dare to question these clearly self-evident truths.

But as Egypt shows us, if you exploit and sacrifice people mercilessly for years and decades, they will “rise up like lions” and your days of selling pyramids will be over.

The point of life is not to enrich the banks! Or to make the rich and powerful more rich and more powerful! Nor to believe in these self-serving religions of money, banks and power, nor their priests, acolytes and altar boys.

It is to live in harmony with others, with other states, with the physical world and its limited resources. And the chief enemy of this is selfishness.

But the days of believing in money for the sake of money are over.

Greens welcome Hull Lib Dems attack on cuts

I’m really pleased to learn that Council Leader Carl Minns and the Lib Dem councillors in Hull are doing the right thing and speaking up against the government led cuts.

They speak against the “scale and pace” of the cuts even though it involves their own party leaders because they realise how profoundly these cuts will affect frontline services and vulnerable people across Hull.

In the Green Party we’ve consistently stood against all these cuts.  We fought all the cuts promised by the other parties in the General Election. They’re vicious and they’re not needed; there are major alternatives. The deficit can be wound down simply by taxing more fairly – which this government refuses to do.

To add further insult to injury, the government now has a major plan to change tax law to favour international banks and big businesses to the tune of tens of billion of pounds more! George Monbiot is calling this the tax heist of the century!

Guess who will also be paying for that?!


Martin Deane stood for Parliament in Hull last year and will stand for Council in May.

“I have never seen such visceral anger in Hull”

Lobby of Hull City Council, Guildhall, 20 Jan.

– by a Hull Trade Unionist

For years a lobby of the council in Hull has been a sedate affair with a good crowd a few slogans and then going off home.

Tonight a protest took place involving 350-400 people.

Workers decided to march round the Guildhall and then went into the building. They marched up to the council chamber finding the doors locked.

As people pondered what to do the doors to the public gallery were forced open and people poured in.

Initially people kept quiet as the councillors continued their business. Then a Labour councillor spoke to oppose a motion put forward by the Liberal Democrats who run the council. He had barely finished his first sentence when the workers erupted into applause and chants of shame on you to the Lib Dems.

The meeting was brought to a halt and the ashen faced Lib Dems finally got to know what anger is there. The vast majority of them slunk out of the chamber to the chants of  “The Workers United Will Never Be Defeated!”

I have never seen such visceral anger in Hull and people came out confident and bouyed up by the protest. We must use this to build for strike action and the maximum possible attendance at the TUC demo on March 26th.

– Hull Trade Unionist

Should Britain follow its promise on nuclear weapons?

Green Policy #9: Scrap Trident and British nuclear weapons.

40 years ago Britain  undertook to halt, reduce and eliminate our nuclear capability when we signed the NPT or Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Labour-proposed renewal of Trident, after Blair’s vote in 2007, is hardly that. Labour apologists say renewing Trident is completely within the terms of the NPT and doesn’t count as an escalation. They argue that the actual number of warheads is decreased – and this may even be true!  However, the NPT commission doesn’t see it that way and regards the proposed renewal as an escalation of capability and therefore may be in breach of the Treaty.

Scrapping Trident is part of our 8 point plan on Peace and Security as per latest draft manifesto.

No replacement of Trident .  We cannot conceive of any circumstances in which we could or would use these expensive and immoral weapons, and would de-commission the existing system and not renew it.

There are various figures given for costs. The most frequent is a £76 bn lifetime cost. But the the total cost could be as high as £130 bn (Guardian). And we have plenty of plans for that level of expenditure!

The reasons the LibDems give (Nick Clegg, last June) are that it’s too expensive and not fit for our security needs. They still believe in and want a nuclear deterrent just not that one.

In 2007 when Blair put Trident renewal to a vote, some 72% of people polled against it and nearly 100 Lab MPs revolted over it.

In the Green Party we do not want these weapons. We do not want a replacement. Nor do we do not want a nuclear deterrent. A significant majority of the British people agree with us (58% to 35% in last September’s poll) . Nuclear deterrence is a highly dangerous outcome of the Cold War.

It is necessary and vital to think differently in the 21st century – especially on how we use dwindling resources, and how we foster international cooperation and development.

We cannot conceive of any use these weapons have: they cannot be used, that would be the ultimate failure. Nor is Trident actually an independent but relies on American missiles, know-how and say-so – they don’t help our security, they keep us tied to US policy.

Rebecca Johnson, NPT Review Conference 2010