Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Osborne and tax avoidance, Gove, History and war.

Osborne and tax avoidance: 

Tax avoiders beware; first there was "morally repugnant", then "smell the coffee", and now "no safe haven". Maybe Osborne`s plans to bring to justice tax evaders who had "previously claimed ignorance of the law to escape prosecution" will have some effect, but many will be justifiably sceptical. Will the thousands who have lost their jobs at HMRC be re-employed? It doesn`t make sense to sack inspectors who might earn say £50K but collect £100K. Then there`s the question of the "patent box", a wheeze devised by so-called tax "experts", approved of by the government, and designed to enable most large businesses to pay hugely reduced corporation tax, in the region in some cases of 5%. Does this give the impression of a government determined to close a "tax gap" which stands at a minimum of £35bn a year? Will effective action ever be taken as long as we have governments in the pockets of bankers and speculators? We would be more willing to believe the Chancellor if, for example, the ending all government contracts for companies known to be either tax avoiding themselves, or advising others on how to do so, was also proposed.
       Actionaid has revealed in its report  about the scale of tax evading by the FTSE 100 listed businesses, that banks are the most prolific users of tax havens. Is it not ludicrous that two of the major banks, partly owned by the British taxpayers, are so totally concerned with profit, they evade paying the correct amount of corporation tax to their employers?
     Ending tax avoidance and evasion will require not only legislation with less loopholes, but a change of culture, so that people are disgraced, knighthoods and honours returned, careers finished, and prison sentences imposed when individuals and companies fail to pay the correct amount of tax. Somehow, I don`t think that is what Osborne has in mind!

 Gove`s history and War:

 So Gove`s examination changes will result in "greater emphasis on British history", rising to 40% of the content.  This in itself should not cause too much concern, as the totally pointless rote-learning in chronological order of kings and queens will take place earlier; however, more worrying is which topics have to give way. Hopefully, the Blitz can still be studied, so that pupils can learn that bombing civilians causes only hatred, and increases determination to defeat the enemy. Perhaps the 19th century`s invasions of Afghanistan by Britain will illuminate the stupidity of further invasions, but the hatred for the foreign invader, which the Vietnam War displays perfectly, could well be forced off the syllabus.
     Whatever happens, let`s hope headlines like "Afghans hated the British more than the Taliban" will not be surprising to our future History students, provided, of course, they have learned their lessons better than our politicians!The fact that the Ministry of Defence has recently tried to block the publication of two books, written by soldiers in the field of action, and depicting the truth about another disastrous war in Afghanistan, clearly reveals a political class in Britain knowing little history, British or otherwise. Privately educated toffs in Westmister may know the difference between a Plantagenet and a Norman at a hundred paces, but why they don`t know invasions are unpopular and mass bombing kills civilians and increases hatred is a mystery.
    Whatever do they teach them in those private schools? 

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