How can anyone take this government, and what its leading politicians tell us, seriously? Osborne actually said on the Andrew Marr Show, in response to the ridiculous "greed is good" speech by his rival for the Tory leadership, Johnson, that the goal should be equality of opportunity, not of outcome, and that "you should give everyone, wherever they come from, the best chance". How could he stop himself from smirking as he said it? Within months of coming to power he and his cronies had trebled university fees and got rid of the Educational Maintenance Grant, and in the meantime have passed no legislation whatsoever to increase equality, or decrease the number of privately educated going to the top universities.Instead, they allowed Gove to drive state education back into the middle of the 20th century.
Remember how Cameron was going to make Starbucks and the rest of the tax avoiding companies "smell the coffee"? How those corporations must have trembled! The chancellor had already voiced his opinion that such practices were "morally repugnant". Who on earth do they think they are kidding? It is clearly all a pretence, window-dressing, to give the appearance to the public that they are doing their utmost, whilst actually deliberately achieving little so that their friends in the City and in the corporation boardrooms, can continue to fleece the rest of us.Tax experts are already criticising the government`s General Anti-Abuse Rule as it is only likely to raise less than a percentage point of the estimated £25bn avoided in tax every year. (Morning Star,02/12/13)They have done next to nothing about tax havens where trillions are squirrelled away, rather than paid to the Treasury; the British Overseas Territories, according to War on Want, together "rank as the most significant tax haven in the world, ahead of even Switzerland. The reality is that there is no income tax, corporation tax, sales tax, wealth tax or any other direct tax in the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands account for 40% of the world`s offshore companies, and Bermuda remains Google`s favourite tax haven".
The focus now is on Greene King, whose tax avoidance schemes have been described by Tory MP Richard Bacon, no less, as "purely artificial", in their attempts to get their appeal against HMRC upheld; the scheme was bought from Ernst and Young for 8% of the tax saved, and was marketed as "Project Sussex".The fact that Ernst and Young, one of the "Big Four" audit firms, along with Deloitte, Price Waterhouse and KPMG, is allowed to "market" such devices and be paid according to the amount of tax avoided, is deplorable,and in any decent civilisation would be illegal, but there`s worse! The success of the scam depended, according to the QC representing HMRC, on "certain accounting treatments", (Guardian,02/12/13) and Greene King`s accounts were signed off by auditors from, you`ve guessed it, Ernst and Young!
It`s well documented that representatives from this so-called "Big Four" sit on Treasury committees advising on ways businesses can be lured into Britain by schemes such as the "patent box" scam, which result in lower corporation tax being paid, often as low as 5% instead of the required 23%.
There will be inevitably more of the Tories` "economy with the truth" during this week`s Autumn Statement, how the austerity policies have led to economic recovery, and how tax avoiders are having all looopholes closed, so that fairness and transparency can be restored to their previous dominant positions.Oh yes, and there will be smirking galore!