As a man who is constantly talking about having to “do what is right”, he has a choice:
Either he re-enters the tax system endured by all the rest of us – along with his rich mates, business bosses, hedge fund managers and the firms they have taken offshore, or…
He quits as UK prime minister, immediately.
What’s it to be, Dave? “All in it together”, or out on your ear?
At root, the Panama Papers are not about tax. They’re not even about money. What the Panama Papers really depict is the corruption of our democracy.
Following on from LuxLeaks, the Panama Papers confirm that the super-rich have effectively exited the economic system the rest of us have to live in.
Thirty years of runaway incomes for those at the top, and the full armoury of expensive financial sophistication, mean they no longer play by the same rules the rest of us have to follow. Tax havens are simply one reflection of that reality.
Discussion of offshore centres can get bogged down in technicalities, but the best definition I’ve found comes from expert Nicholas Shaxson who sums them up as: “You take your money elsewhere, to another country, in order to escape the rules and laws of the society in which you operate.” In so doing, you rob your own society of cash for hospitals, schools, roads…
But those who exited our societies are now also exercising their voice to set the rules by which the rest of us live.
The 1% are buying political influence as never before. Think of the billionaire Koch brothers, whose fortunes will shape this year’s US presidential elections.
In Britain, remember the hedge fund and private equity barons, who in 2010 contributed half of all the Conservative party’s election funds – and so effectively bought the Tories their first taste of government in 18 years.
In my politics lessons, we were taught that Britain was a representative democracy. But what 30 years of plutocracy have brought is an era of un-representative democracy. With a few exceptions, our politicians no longer resemble, nor do they work for us. Amid a crisis in the rental market, you have a housing minister, Brandon Lewis, who runs a private rental portfolio. You have a former investment banker, Sajid Javid, now claiming to do his best by the steel industry. And you have a super-rich prime minister who vows he’ll take on tax havens, all the while blocking any serious attempt to do so.
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