A campaign for a Financial Transactions Tax (a "Robin Hood tax") of 0.05% is launched today. No other measure would raise so much money or do so little harm.
Today, the orthodoxy that the public deficits caused by the recession need to be dealt with by cuts in public services is being challenged. Unions, development charities, climate change campaigners and faith groups have launched a campaign that’s going to be even bigger than Make Poverty History. And this is one we can win.
A Financial Transactions Tax of the order of 0.05 per cent – that’s 50p for every £1,000 spent – could be implemented nationally, at European level or – ideally – globally. No other single measure would raise so much money or do so little harm. In one second, the tax would raise enough to provide 9,000 children in Africa with a pencil and an exercise book.
We call it a Robin Hood Tax because it will take from the rich and give to the poor. In Germany it’s the Tax Against Poverty. In the USA it’s the Financial Speculation Tax. But it all means putting a really small levy on wholesale financial transactions, to raise hundreds of billions of pounds, dollars or euros to pay for decent public services, tackle poverty at home and abroad, and meet the challenge of climate change.
The call for a global tax is backed in Europe by Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy. President Lula in Brazil and Prime Minister Zenawi in Ethiopia are keen. So is the Chancellor in Austria, the former head of the Bank of India, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. Warren Buffet and George Soros, Joe Stiglitz and Paul Krugman – financiers and nobel prize winning economists are supporters.
The German, US and British campaigns are all broad coalitions of civil society organisations. At European level, Europeans for Financial Reform (led by the ETUC and the Party of European Socialists) are working with HIV/AIDS campaigners. The UK campaign’s 50th member – signed up in just four days – was the RSPB. Campaigners in South Africa, Japan and Canada have joined the regular campaign planning teleconferences.
Now people in Britain can have their say. Watch the campaign video below – a Richard Curtis special production starring Bill Nighy as the banker that bankers will want to be – and vote for (or against) our proposal at http://robinhoodtax.org.uk.
Which is it to be? A small tax on financial speculation to help people at home and abroad, and tackle climate change? Or swingeing cuts in public services?
Our guest writer is Owen Tudor, Head of International Relations at the TUC.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.