UK elections: Don’t waste your time voting….

Don’t waste your time voting in the upcoming UK elections, it’s a pointless exercise. Many years ago, I believe there was serious political and ideological policy differences between the Conservative and Labour parties but it becomes increasingly obvious none exist now. In particular, since the election in 1997 of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair the choice of either Socialist, Capitalist or indeed any variation, disappeared. The recent HSBC row concerning tax avoidance by the wealthiest people in the country proves without doubt this claim.

Suspected HSBC related tax crimes were known for at least seven years prior to the recent revelations. This fact implicates both the current Conservative/Liberal coalition government and the previous Labour party regime of knowing about the tax evasion. Hardly any meaningful action has been taken by either and I’d wager that nothing will change much even now.

The first problem with bringing these people to justice is that they are political party donors and increasingly our system is becoming more like the American style of lobby pressure politics whereby donors can and do demand something in return for their copious amount of funding. As an example, a book called US Foreign Policy by John J Mearsheimer and Stephen M Walt explain how it works far more eloquently than I ever could.

Because of the first hurdle to indictments for all these wealthy people, there is absolutely no political will to investigate, never mind prosecute. Even if investigations are forthcoming, the tax evasion amount is estimated and the criminal allowed to pay what he owes the Inland Revenue (tax collectors) and that’s the end of it. However, this isn’t the way the rest of us are treated by the tax authorities nor in the general justice system. Not declaring your income records honestly is theft. You are stealing from everyone else who pays their tax and as I’ll explain, the vast majority of us don’t have the opportunity to even attempt tax avoidance.

In the UK, the vast majority of us are subject to a system called PAYE. It stands for Pay As You Earn and this is how it works. We are allotted a tax code which indicates the level of tax we pay to government which our employers then collect from our earnings before it is given to us. For instance, if my wages were 400 pounds a week, I would only receive 300 in my bank account because the government tax collectors would have my employer give them my tax directly. The 25% deduction is accurate even though we are told our tax rate is around 15% by government, they don’t include what is called NI contributions which we pay just under 10% of our wages and the employer pays a similar amount for employing us. All these taxes except those that are collected by fraudulent companies and never given to the government are guaranteed every three months.

If I go and steal something from a shop and get caught by the shop owner, they call the police and I am almost certain to be prosecuted, no matter how little the item would have cost to buy. Likewise, if I were to claim government benefits that I am not entitled to, I would feel the full force of the law, possibly jailed and also be exposed as a benefits cheat in the media to complete the public shaming.

It appears that not all of us are treated equally. If you are a banker and you rig the market, your employee pays a large fine (to who?) and that is normally the end of it. If you are a wealthy person with innovative accountants, you would, more often than not be allowed to pay the amount you tried to steal and that would be the end of it.

It’s hardly an ‘equal in the eyes of the law’ situation.

So, back to the people who allow this huge difference in how laws do not apply evenly across society. Both political parties totally ignored this tax evasion scandal even though the whistleblower who exposed it seven years ago, Herve Falciani offered our tax authority, HMCR all the information related to it. It’s not clear how they responded but it’s fair to say that none of the thousands of British names on the list appear to be in prison.

It would appear that pressure is being put up on the government to prosecute HSBC for facilitation, which as I’ve already said would probably conclude with large fine for HSBC  but no individual prosecutions. We are told that we are individually responsible for our tax, even though the government take that option away from the vast majority of us. The ones who are ‘trusted’ with their’s should all be brought to justice, including sports stars, multi-millionaires and dare I say it, politicians.

I wont be voting for anyone until this basic inequality is addressed. I can’t imagine I’ll be holding a ballot paper or my breath (for it to happen) anytime soon.

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