these were the words that stopped me shopping in any Philip Green establishment back in October 2010. And do you know what Top Shop et al I haven’t missed you one little bit.
This was the first time tax dodging on this scale really entered my consciousness.
Hard on the heels came the OUTRAGEOUS HMRC actions to relieve Vodaphone of a £6 billion tax bill. I can still hardly type the words without frothing at the mouth.
It was this action that lead a group of students to take some direct action and protest outside Vodaphone stores in London, and I am proud to say in Leeds.
Over the past year, I have watched and supported UKuncut as they have taken to the streets and with wit and invention informed people of the levels of tax avoidance been carried out by large corporations whilst the rest of us had to suffer the savage cuts. We were not all in this together. They said.. don’t believe the Government hype.. there is another way.
But I don’t think, when UKuncut turned their attention to the HMRC itself anyone could have predicted the how deep the culture of “sweetheart deals” for corporations such as Vodaphone ran. Not in this day and age, and when not when services to the poor and elderly were being so savagely cut.
UKuncut highlighted that the Permanent Undersecretary for Tax Dave Harnett had a very “cosy” relationship with the bosses of major corporations, coming top in the league of most “wined and Dined” civil servant. He has later admitted he “shook hands” on the Goldman Sachs deal that let them off £20 million in tax on bonuses. It is like something from a Dickensian novel not modern-day, when we are supposed to be ruled by transparency, procedure and accountability. The man at the top of the tree at the HMRC was shaking hands of deals to let billionaires off their taxation responsibilities. My belief has been completely beggared.
Due to pressure from UKuncut and from the whistleblower Osita Mba, a revenue solicitor, who first alerted Parliament to the Goldman Sachs deal, Dave Harnett has now “retired” but a 170 page cross parliamentary report on Tuesday has further established a systemic failure at the HMRC to deal with large corporations tax liabilities
So I say thank you UKuncut for your tireless work. On Tuesday even the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail were taking up the cause. And we all know what happens when Daily Mail readers get morally outraged! This is a job, incredibly and brilliantly well done.
And it just goes to show, if we all stand up and make our voices heard.. we can change things, we can make a difference. We are living in exciting times.