Keep up the protests — they work!

by Daphne Liddle

THE G8 SUMMIT in Enniskillen ended with a highly trumpeted international agreement to crack down on both tax avoidance and tax evasion by giant multinationals. But it is worded too vaguely to have any real effect.

And since it has been drawn up by the guilty fat cats the only comfort we can take from it is that they have noticed the rising levels of popular anger and protest at their criminal greed and are feeling the need to make some sort of appeasement gesture.

The other big topic discussed at the G8 was Syria, which was effectively a standoff between the imperialist war mongers who are itching to intervene and Russian President Putin.

But Putin was far from isolated in his refusal to allow United Nations backing for another debacle and humanitarian catastrophe as happened in Libya.

The imperialist powers, headed by Britain and the United States, are still looking for a way to topple the elected government of Assad in Syria but they face an uphill struggle against growing global condemnation and the opposition of public opinion in their own countries.

On the issue of global fat cats dodging paying taxes, the protest group UK Uncut commented: “For all Cameron and Osborne’s tough talk on tax over the last year in the UK, there has been no tough action on tax.

“In fact it’s seemed more like the Government is trying to turn the UK into a tax haven than close them down. So it’s hard to believe that today’s agreement will really live up to its huge hype because it is lacking in any substance as to how it will be implemented or when by. Style over substance rarely leads to meaningful change.

“If Cameron put half as much effort into tackling tax dodging as he has into cutting our public services, it would be a thing of the past. In the UK, the Government must clamp down on tax avoidance and end the political choice to slash the Welfare State, privatise the NHS and cut legal aid.

“This is why we will vow to continue to resist the Government’s cuts and hold the Government to account with creative civil disobedience.”

A report issued by Oxfam in May this year revealed: “People using tax havens are depriving the world of more than $150 billion (£100 billion) in lost revenue, enough money to end extreme poverty twice over.

“A high proportion of this tax dodging is taking place on David Cameron and George Osborne’s watch. Of the $18.47 trillion (£12 trillion) that Oxfam estimates is being held by individuals in tax havens around the globe, over a third — $7.18 trillion (£4.7trillion) — is sitting in accounts in British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.”

Cameron’s recent speeches, in which he promises to cut down on tax avoidance through the use of tax havens, is utter hypocrisy when the British government is a major supporter of overseas tax havens and when the policies of George Osborne are turning the City of London into a tax haven.

Billionaires from all over the world are now queuing up to get an address in London because the tax laws in Britain are so lax.

We would be fools to imagine there will be any real progress on this. But we can see that Cameron is feeling the pressure that campaigners like UK Uncut and Oxfam are exerting.

President Obama’s hypocrisy over Syria is also showing. His claims that the Syrian government has used sarin gas and that the “red line” he declared earlier has been crossed did not result in an immediate intervention by the United States.

Firstly the claim that the Assad government is using chemical weapons has not been supported by the United Nations or the Red Cross, and secondly the US is not in a position to intervene on a serious scale.

Obama is building up forces in Jordan for a possible air strike (known as a “no fly zone”). But the US military is already stretched beyond its shrinking financial limits and his only support for an intervention is coming from David Cameron, who in turn, does not have the united support of his own party, let alone the House of Commons on this issue.

Obama and Cameron may well want to use Putin’s firm stand as an alibi for a face-saving climb-down in this adventure.

The underlying message on both the issues of tax and Syria is that although not much seems to have changed, there is real evidence that mass protests all around the world are having an impact.