I’ve just had a bit of a rant on Twitter. Thought it might be worth making a more structured argument here.
Last year Barclays paid £113m in corporation tax on £11.6bn profits: that’s 1% rather than 28%.
The thing that really gets me about such (probably totally legal) criminality is that tax-dodging on such an epic scale is really a form of social robbery. Barclays should have paid £3,164 million (or 3.164 billion if you’re using American billions) in tax.
They have robbed the British treasury of over £3,000,000,000, which means they have collectively robbed the people of Britain of whatever the Government could have spent that money on.
Seriously, that is how much they have stolen from us by exploiting legal loopholes.
Does that bank have a social conscience? Do the people who work there? Do the people who bank there? Do the people or institutions that own shares in it?
If you’re making money off Barclays you’re guilty of complicity in this swindle. I honestly think that.
I don’t know why we don’t get more angry about this. I know it’s not just Barclays. It could be every other large corporation. Why aren’t we angry with all of them?
Business can be conducted differently. Business can create wealth for the good of everyone. It can bring much-needed equity into a sharply-divided society. Paying tax is about good citizenship and the demands of good citizenship apply equally to banks and corporations.
But it’s not going to happen without pressure from people like me and you.
This country is going to lose its free healthcare system. It’s going to lose investment in its infrastructure. The schools and hospitals and roads and rubbish collections and leisure centres and libraries and parks and public transport in your area is going to be cut. Fact. And if you’re a normal member of this society you either don’t know that or you don’t give a shit.
Most people don’t. Who cares about corporate profiteering when you can watch Got to Dance on Sky? TV is the 21st century opium of the proles.
Jesus hated profiteering and took direct action (Mark 11: 15-17). I reckon he'd be up for having a go at Barclays.