By Andy Worthington June 22, 2012
Since emerging in October 2010, the UK Uncut campaigners have protested against tax avoidance in the UK and have worked to raise awareness about cuts to public services.
They have also undertaken — and encouraged others to undertake, on a kind of free franchise basis — countless actions involving theatrical occupations of corporate outlets, and are now, as they put it, “extending their actions into the courts.” See here for their legal action page — and how to donate to support their legal cases.
This is an important documentary, and a perfect follow-up to my article yesterday, RIP Karen Sherlock, Another Victim of the Tories’ Brutal, Heartless Disability Reforms, in which I not only mourned the death of disability campaigner Karen Sherlock, who was herself severely disabled, but also reiterated my sustained attack on the government’s cruelty and incompetence, with particular reference to the government’s assault on education, on the NHS, and on the unemployed and disabled.
The film includes interviews with disabled people, with others opposing the artificial age of austerity imposed on us, and also with financial experts and lawyers explaining the colossal extent of tax avoidance, and how we do not need to accept that the cost of bailing out the banks who caused the global economic crash of 2008 is being paid for through cuts, when it should be tackled by clamping down on tax evasion and tax avoidance.
As is explained in the film, £850 billion was used to bail out the banks, even though, according to some estimates, $11 trillion is hidden in offshore accounts — enough to tackle deficits without the savage and self-defeating austerity measures that are steadily destroying the fabric of life in the UK.
When UK Uncut began, its young activists were inspired to campaign because of the realisation that the communications giant Vodafone had negotiated a deal with the UK government, whereby its tax bill of £7 billion was conveniently reduced to £1.25 billion.
To coincide with the release of “The Missing Billions,” UK Uncut are pursuing Goldman Sachs in court. As the Guardian explained on Wednesday, they have “won permission from the high courts to have a ‘sweetheart’ deal between HMRC [Revenue and Customs] and the banking giant Goldman Sachs judicially reviewed for its legality.”
In court, “Justice Peregrine Simon said the matter was ‘plainly in the public interest’ and that any judicial review of the deal which saw Goldman Sachs let off a £10m interest bill, would be separate to an anticipated National Audit Office investigation on maladministration and bad practice.”
I hope you have time to watch “The Missing Billions,” and that it proves useful.
I have been watching these issues closely, but I found new angles in the film that I had not considered before.
In closing, I’m posting below UK Uncut’s analysis of the governments lies, which I have found useful since the group first established its website, for its simplicity and logic:
UK Uncut’s Opposition to the UK Government’s Austerity Cuts
“There is no alternative.”
We are told that the only way to reduce the deficit is to cut public services. This is certainly not the case. There are alternatives, but the government chooses to ignore them, highlighting the fact that the cuts are based on ideology, not necessity.
One alternative is to clamp down on tax avoidance by corporations and the rich and tax evasion, estimated to cost the state £95bn a year;
Another is to make the banks pay for free insurance provided to them by the taxpayer: a chief executive at the Bank of England put the cost of this subsidy at £100bn in a single year.
Either the tax avoided and evaded in a single year or the ongoing taxpayer subsidy to the banking industry could pay for all of the £81bn, four-year cuts programme.
“We are all in this together.”
Since the banking crisis:
average pay of FTSE 100 directors has risen 55%;
the government have not delivered on a manifesto pledge to clamp down on tax avoidance, instead cutting staff at HMRC;
there has been no reform of the banks.
David Cameron himself has said that the cuts will change Britain’s “whole way of life”. Every aspect of what was fought for by generations seems under threat — from selling off the forests, privatising health provision, closing the libraries and swimming pools, to scrapping rural bus routes.
What Cameron doesn’t say is that the cuts will also disproportionately hit the poor and vulnerable, with cuts to housing benefit, disability living allowance, the childcare element of working tax credits, EMA, the Every Child a Reader programme, Sure Start and the Future Jobs Fund to name a few.
The facts speak for themselves; we are not all in this together, we are paying for the folly of reckless bankers whilst the rich profit.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon