MPs move to create new anti-tax avoidance principle in UK law

To a rational person it would seem that:

  • making  ordinary and less well off people  shoulder more than their fair share of the burden of austerity simply takes money out of the economy – prolonging the recession.
  • giving tax breaks to those who already have more money than they can spend simply means that money will be pumped into off shore tax havens.
  • natural justice suggests that those who have gained the most from the financial free for all of the last thirty years should contribute the most towards sorting out the resulting mess.

Life is more complicated than this but what is clear is that a way of redressing this imbalance would be to collect the billions of pounds of tax that is currently avoided, evaded or simply stored in tax havens.   The sums of money are huge and would go a long way to solving our problems. The UK is responsible for the majority of the world’s tax havens which include  London if you are a non UK citizen or non domiciled.  The UK could unilaterally make a huge difference to ordinary tax payers throughout the world.

A new anti-tax avoidance principle in UK law would be a small start.  Here is a copy of an email (thanks to that I have sent to my MP.  Below the message are links to further information.

Dear Mr Glen

General Anti-Tax Avoidance Principle Bill (HC Bill 25)

I understand that this Bill, in the name of Michael Meacher MP, is to come before the Commons on Friday.

There is a growing sense of grievance and indeed outrage that many in our national community, both businesses and individuals, are dodging paying their due amount of tax. This is leading to insufficient funds in the exchequer, for example to maintain benefits for disabled people – cuts to items such as the disability allowance would be a scandal in the aftermath of the highly successful Paralympics.

I believe in Tax Justice, believing that tackling tax abuse, whether it be tax avoidance or tax evasion, is a desperately-needed global economic reform. I also strongly support the phasing out of tax ‘havens’, which the wealthy use to avoid their tax responsibilities. This Bill will greatly aid that process by hindering the opportunity for people from this country to use such places.

Please would you support this Bill and let me know your views on this vital topic?


Colin Lawson

Copy of a message you could send to your MP:

Matt Ridley – failed banker and rightwing neolibertarian propagandist.

“Matthew White Ridley, 5th Viscount Ridley, FRSL, FMedSci, DL, known commonly as Matt Ridley, is a British scientist, journalist, and popular author and a member of the House of Lords.”  Sounds impressive doesn’t it? Now read on:

Hereditary Viscount, Mathew Ridley (The Rational Optimist) is promoted as “a renowned science writer, journalist, biologist, and businessman”. But what is carefully whitewashed out of his biography is the information that Matthew Ridley is a “failed banker”. Ridley was chairman* of the Northern Rock Bank (2004-2007) where his ill-considered investments in sub-prime mortgages led to the bank’s collapse and nationalization.  When it collapsed it suffered the first run on a British bank in 150 years and contributed to the near melt down of the financial system of the western world. The result was that this neolibertarian propagandist who believes in small government and low taxes had to go to the government and tax payer for a £27 billion bailout.

(* Note: his father had been chairman of Northern Rock before him so I guess Matt Ridley’s  Chairmanship at the bank  was another hereditary position – there is certainly no record of him getting the position through merit)

Although Ridley has a science degree he has never, to my knowledge, been a working scientist and has no expertise in Climate science and yet writes as if he is an authority on this subject.

Matt Ridley ruined Northern Rock.  Fred Goodwin ruined the Royal Bank of Scotland.  Fred Goodwin’s career is in tatters, he seems to have gone to ground and no one is asking his advice on anything and yet Matt Ridley seems to have no trouble getting his articles published, why?  Perhaps it is not the veracity of what he has to say but simply what he says that suits those right wing organisations that seem so keen to publish his work.

Before taking Ridley seriously, consider all those investors and employees of Northern Rock who have, and in many cases still are, suffering real financial hardship because of his incompetence, hubris and failed neolibertarian ideology.

Would you trust someone who, after a lifetime of privilege and entitlement, had caused the first run on a British Bank in over 150 years and then went to the tax payer for a £27 billion bailout?

UPDATE: (6th Feb 2013) Hereditary Viscount,  Matt Ridley, failed banker, ex Chair of failed Northern Rock, has been elected as hereditary Peer to the House of Lords by 24 hereditary peers.   21st Century?? Reward for failure?? Old boys club?? Member of the 1%.  Democracy???

UPDATE: (20th Nov 2013) The list of failed bankers who had managed to get top jobs in banking despite having no relevant prior experience gets longer by the week.   Here are the ones I know about: Andy Hornby (HBOS), Matt Ridley (Northern Rock), Fred Goodwin (RBS) and now Rev Paul Flowers (COOP BANK) all  managed to crash their bank – brilliant.  I dare say there are more – we probably only have to wait a week or two find out.


 UPDATE (18th Oct 2013): Matt Ridley has published yet another of his irrationally optimistic articles “Why climate change is good for the world” This has, as usual, been taken up enthusiastically by the right wing press so here is a useful rebuttal:
“Lord Ridley’s flawed article in ‘The Spectator'” ( Bob Ward, London School of Economics, Grantham Institute, Oct 2013):

See also:

“What Matt Ridley won’t tell you about climate change impacts” (17 October 2013 by Chris Hope)

“No, climate change will not be good for the world” (Duncan Geere New Statesman 17 OCTOBER 2013):

UPDate (March 2014):  “Climate Forecast: Muting the Alarm” in the Wall Street Journal is the latest disinformation from Matt Ridley.  Here is a response:  Matt Ridley op-ed is a laundry list of IPCC misrepresentations.


See the links below for more information on this so called ‘expert’:

Matt Ridley – Wired for Lukewarm Catastrophe (Skeptical Science 29 Aug 2012)

The Ridley Riddle Part One: The Red Queen (Skeptical Science 30 July 2011)

The Ridley Riddle Part Two: The White Queen (Skeptical Science 7 Aug 2011)

The Ridley Riddle Part Three: Like a Northern Rock (Skeptical Science 12 Aug 2011)

The Right’s Whitewashing Of History (Liam McLaughlin, Huffington Post, 10/09/2012)

Matt Ridley – The Man Who Wants to Northern Rock the Planet (George Monbiot June 1 2010)

Matt Ridley’s Rational Optimist is telling the rich what they want to hear – The ex-Northern Rock man is in denial about his book’s mistakes (George Monbiot, Guardian 18th June 2010)

If the Northern Rock fiasco was a morality tale, it was more about hubris than greed (Giles Fraser, The Guardian, Friday 14 September 2012)

“Cherry-picked reality: How fantasy is maintained by false scepticism” A critique of Matt Ridley’s “Rational Optimist” (warning – a lengthy article but worth reading if you have time) … (New Scientist 10th June 2010)

 UPDATE 24th July 2014: New article by George Monbiot illustrating once again the bankruptcy of the neo-liberal agenda:


David Laws, Liam Fox and now Maria Miller – all in it together

Who do they think they are?

Carol Irving, single mother of 4, unemployed. Failed to declare she was living with a partner. Over-claimed £40,000 in Housing benefit = 6 months in jail. 

David Laws MP single, multimillionaire. Failed to declare he was living with a partner, over-claimed £40,000 in Parliamentary Allowances = invited to rejoin government after 18 months on back benches.

Government Minister, Maria Miller, over claimed her housing expenses by £45,000 but only has to pay back £5,800 and say ‘sorry’.

And then we have:

Liam Fox abused the post of Defence secretary by taking his business ‘associate’ and lobbyist Adam Werrity to  accompany him on foreign visits and meetings with political leaders, diplomats and defence contractors.  He also used his position to promote the right-wing Atlantic Bridge “charity” with links to the more barmy and sinister right-wing of the Republican Party and “Tea Party” in the US. It seems he also ran a clandestine pro Israel foreign policy*.

Last year, the Conservative MP had to repay £3,000 of expenses after it was found he had allowed his friend Adam Werritty to live at his taxpayer-funded second home for a year rent-free.

Let’s also remember that Liam Fox, who is so keen on cutting benefits to hard working but low paid tax payers,  was caught over claiming £22.5k mortgage payments and £19k mobile phone costs from those same tax payers.  If a benefits claimant had been caught doing this they would be in jail.

He was also criticised for allowing their Atlantic Bridge think tank to be run from his parliamentary offices.

Liam Fox had to resign as Defence Secretary (avoiding further scrutiny) and his Atlantic Bridge “charity” was closed down in 2011 because it contravened charity laws.

Liam Fox’s Atlantic Bridge linked top Tories and Tea Party activists. Officially it was a charity; in fact, Fox’s thinktank was a meeting place for the movers and shakers of the right wing. (Guardian, 15th Oct 2011)

The lessons of Atlantic Bridge. Questioning exposed a network of rightwing politicians and lobbyists. We need openness on how the rich shape politics (Guardian 16th Oct 2011)

Malign power of men who peddle influence (Daily Mail, 17th Oct 2011)

*Liam Fox, Adam Werritty, and the curious case of Our Man in Tel Aviv (Independent, 27th Nov 2011)

UPDATE: Yep: “One law for the rich and a very different one for the poor” Adam Werritty – former adviser to Liam Fox MP – won’t face fraud charge > No, you have to be on benefits for that to happen:  Adam Werritty fraud investigation dropped over insufficient evidence



John Glen MP on Barclays Libor Scandal

John Glen MP on Barclays Libor ScandalI cannot let this disappointing Tweet from our local MP John Glen go without comment. He made it on the day of the House of Commons debate about the Barclays / Libor debacle during which there was a pretty unedifying display of the kind of partisan, point scoring, shouting and insults that the public finds so disconcerting about our politicians. It was also the day after the Select Committee comprehensively demonstrated, with their pathetically inadequate questioning of Bob Diamond, that a parliamentary inquiry into the LIBOR scandal would be totally ineffective .

The facts and evidence are clear, deregulation and liberalisation of the City of London and the glorification of the greed is good culture, started with Margaret Thatcher and her neolibertarian colleagues supported by the powerful lobbying strength of the banks.  They were followed by Blair and Brown and New Labour who just as enthusiastically followed the neolibertarian route of light touch regulation (lax regulation) and yielding to the lobbying power of the City Institutions. Meanwhile Osborne and the Tories were cheer-leading for the process, criticising New Labour for not going far enough in ridding the city of  regulation.  Clearly both major parties are up to their necks in blame for where we are to day – the evidence for this is incontrovertible.

In response to John Glen’s Tweet I would suggest that what the public wants is for our politicians to forget their petty party political squabbles and put the interest of the country first.  The level of corruption, greed and clinical delusion in the city threatens the livelihood and well being of everyone of us, not least the poor people who work for the high street banks and other retail sectors of the financial industry and who are blameless*, but like the rest of us are suffering the consequences.    (* except those who helped with the miss selling of PPIs and other dodgy financial products)

Yes the public want action – we want the Vicker’s commission recommendations to be implemented in full (not the watered down Osborn version), with a complete separation between High Street Banks and casino banking (rejected by Osborn) and we don’t want to wait until 2019 (another Osborne sop to the City).

We then want an independent enquiry into the whole financial mess in the vain hope that we can turn our brains on and avoid  this all happening again.

NB: The narrow point that John Glen was making about Ed Balls, based presumably on the Osborn allegation that Balls interfered in the Libor rate at the height of the financial panic (since retracted by Osborn’s office) seems to be a pretty weak criticism.  Ed Ball’s interference would have been in an attempt to save the financial industry in general and Barclays in particular from total collapse.  It is crystal clear that Ball’s and Osborn’s behaviour towards the City would have been the same – any suggestion that Osborn would have regulated the City anymore effectively is risible.

Always Ask a Banker to Put the Lie in Writing (Bloomberg)

Revealed: The £93m City lobby machine

The revolving door between the City and Government:

Here is yet another example of the revolving door between regulator and regulated

Trade Minister Stephen Green and HSBC

One in six peers have paid links to financial services industry

Marcus Agius, Chairman of Barclays Bank, is also Honorary Chairman of BBA which is responsible for the London interbank lending rate.

Marcus Agius, Chairman of Barclays Bank, responsible for fiddling the LIBOR (London interbank lending rate) is also Honorary Chairman of the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), the  trade body, which oversees the setting of the LIBOR.  He is also Chairman of the Board of Corporate Governance and Chairman of the committee for brand and Reputation.  (I wonder how much he is paid? Oh silly me, he is also a member of the remuneration committee).

Angela Knight of the BBA gave a very subdued performance when interview by Jon Snow (Channel 4 News – see clip here) I guess we won’t see Marcus being interviewed by Jon Snow anytime soon and I expect the BBA will be trying to keep a low profile and blame it all on the “regulatory authorities” i.e anyone but them.

Belatedly the BBA has called for Government review of Libor powers. But the BBA must have known for years what was going on, everyone else did. It is staggering dishonesty for it to try to blame others for its own failure to act with any degree of honesty or integrity:

Here is Marcus Aguis’ Biography from the BBA web site:

Marcus Agius – Honorary Chairman British Bankers’ Association

Marcus joined the Board of Barclays on 1 September 2006 as a non-executive Director and was appointed as Group Chairman from 1 January 2007.

Marcus’ extensive background in banking began at Lazard where he worked from 1972 to 2006, latterly as Chairman of Lazard in London and Deputy Chairman of Lazard LLC. He was Chairman of BAA plc until 2006 and is currently Senior Independent Director of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Chairman of the Trustees of The Royal Botanic Gardens. Marcus is also Chairman of the British Bankers’ Association and a member of the Advisory Council of TheCityUK.

Marcus is Chairman of the Board Corporate Governance and Nominations Committee, a member of the Board HR and Remuneration Committee and Chairman of the Brand and Reputation Committee.

Source for text above:

Angela Knight interview: