To remain sustainable, the Eurozone must adopt a common fiscal policy

The Euro is a pioneering symbol of the European Union and one of its most innovative economic achievements. There is no doubt that greater economic integration has brought benefits to the EU and its citizens but whilst the euro area experiences a robust recovery, the framework supporting Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) remains incomplete. It is unsurprising, then, that the region remains susceptible to the possibility of further financial crises. Worryingly, the emergence of economic crises in the Eurozone symbolises a turning point in the history of European integration, illustrating the contradictions of having created a single currency without a suitable economic government, as well as the unsustainability of the EMU as it was originally drafted in the Maastricht Treaty.

As difficult as it is for some economists, a common currency should be viewed positively. Indeed, without it, currencies would be free to compete against each other on the global markets and this would greatly inhibit trade. However, a common European currency in its current form is not enough. The Eurozone must begin to develop elements of a common fiscal policy, including greater levels of risk sharing, to preserve and protect further attempts at financial and economic integration. For, without some degree of union, the region will continue the idiosyncratic existential shocks that policy will no longer be able to ignore.

If Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) were like any other large currency area, such as the United States, members would tackle financial shocks together with an empowered centralised mechanism – or jointly run institution – to resolve stressed financial entities and provide fiscal relief to member states. However, because the EMU is not a political union, member states are left exposed to economic or financial shocks, especially where public debt levels are high and governments have little manoeuvrability to respond with individualised fiscal policies. Similarly, private markets do not offer sufficient insurance against declines in consumption during an economic crisis. Government deficit spending is an alternative, but this comes with higher taxes or lower spending later and may not be an option when public debt is already very high.

It is not to say that there haven’t been attempts made to strengthen the EMU. Reassuringly, arguments in favour of establishing a common fiscal policy in the Eurozone have been advanced, in particular the ‘Report of the 5 Presidents’ (Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Mario Draghi and Martin Schulz) on “Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union”, as well as the declarations in the Werner Report (1970) and MacDougall Report (1977) have suggested that the European Monetary Union would benefit from a centralised fiscal stabiliser in order to deal with asymmetric shocks. But, without action, these arguments resemble nothing more than an empty shell.

Adding true representation to taxes

A common issue that pervades any mention of fiscal integration is the role of nationhood. It must be acknowledged that the ability to collect taxes and spend public resources symbolises a fundamental act of self-determination of each political community and thus requires strong democratic participation and acceptance from the citizenry.

For European federalists, the idea of a national identity is a foreign concept, and through the lens of European history, it is not difficult to understand why. European taxpayers in more prosperous nations may begrudge how their income is being spent elsewhere. Whilst political values influence the strength of resentment, differing national loyalties exacerbate the strength of these grudges. Further tensions undoubtedly stem from the fact that currently, nations cannot vote on each other’s economic policies.

As long as the power to control fiscal policy remains at a national level, current Euro budgets amount to a system in which taxation is not met with accountability and representation. During the European Debt Crisis, for example, the imposition of austerity measures in struggling nations represented a system of shoddy, intergovernmental deals in which the sovereignty of the recipient nations was quashed. A system of collective decision making, based on democratic control would have undoubtedly averted the clumsy response to the crisis.

The adoption of the single currency is incompatible with the preservation of national economic sovereignty, which needs instead to be pooled through the creation of an overarching democratic and transparent policy. Due to the reliance on interdependence within a monetary union, Member States would, therefore, be responsible for their economic policies not only to their national citizens but to all citizens of the union. Essentially, as the Eurozone shares a currency, uniting fiscal policy is the most logical answer.

The Solution?

If, then, we are to address the current structural issues policymakers from across the continent must call for the creation of a common fiscal policy to accompany the current Economic and Monetary Union. Such a union must require a significant degree of economic convergence, further pooling of decision-making power on national budgets to ensure fiscal discipline at a domestic level and prevent moral hazards. Such an economic policy should comprise:

a. an autonomous EMU budget: this could be financed through combined resources, such as, but not limited to a common carbon tax, excise duties, or corporate and personal income tax revenue; the imposition of European taxes should contribute towards a decrease in the level of overall fiscal imposition on taxpayers;

b. adherence to the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure (MIP) as part of the Six-Pack; to broaden the scope for surveillance and coordination beyond fiscal policy variables by providing a new tool for surveillance and correcting imbalances.

c. a fiscal stabilisation function – as outlined in ‘The Five Presidents’ Report 2005’ (Juncker’ to encourage stronger economic policy coordination to deal with a severe crisis. Such a fiscal capacity will obey the following guidelines:
i. it should not result in permanent transfers between Member States.

ii. it should not undermine the incentives and measures for sound national fiscal policy-making.
iii. it should not be an instrument solely for crisis management.

d. the creation of a common fiscal ‘shock absorber’ to provide inter-regional fiscal risk sharing, which allows the levelling of consumption from asymmetric output shocks among Member States. The benefits from international risk-sharing are well-established in economics literature (Obstfeld, 1994). In that literature, a diversity of membership is also seen as an opportunity to risk diversification. In the case of monetary union, a ‘non-Optimal’ Currency Area can thrive because asynchronous business cycles generate opportunities to share portfolio risks through financially integrated markets.

e. greater financial integration through the creation of solidarity tools such as ‘Eurobonds’- to encourage the mutualisation of debt and redistribute the effective cost of borrowing; stronger policy coordination via direct budget surveillance and the helping of weaker Member States to resume growth and avoid the risks of further liquidity crises.

f. the formation of a European Fiscal Policy Committee to replace or update the existing European Fiscal Board, composed of independent accountable financial experts tasked with providing binding recommendations to the European Commission on the euro area’s aggregate fiscal stance. Such an entity will:

i. be headed by a democratically legitimate Eurozone Finance Minister vested with the power to veto national budgets and the ability to utilise the European Economic and Monetary Union budget in order to stimulate economic growth, sustainable development, and cohesion, forming the basis of ‘shared-sovereignty’ and better internalisation of the externalities of fiscal policies.
ii. possess the power to enforce sanctions on member state sovereigns who refuse to adopt required fiscal policy stances. This reflects the view of a ‘stability union’ proposed by Germany in which a supranational European agency will ensure coordination and stability being guided by a euro-area perspective rather than by national interest.

g. the Eurozone Finance Minister should also hold the office of Vice President of the Commission, in a manner similar to the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy; as such, their duties would comprise:

i. chairing Eurogroup meetings in a coordinated approach.
ii. regular appearances before the European Parliament to rationalise and justify the actions of both themselves and the European Fiscal Policy Committee.

h. the inclusion of the European Parliament itself in the decisions regarding the management of the Eurozone budget by introducing an advisory ad hoc Eurozone Parliamentary Committee as proposed by the European Parliament itself in its Resolution of December 12th 2013.

Policy makers, should also calll on the European Central Bank to consider utilising its legislative ability under Article 129 (3) TFEU in order to reform, by general legislative procedure, Article 33(1)(a) of the ECB Statute, with the view of transferring a port of its net profit into the aforementioned Eurozone budget or a new resource of the Union. This should be achieved in a manner ensuring that only Member States that have adopted the single currency benefit from this profit.

Furthermore, the European Parliament, European Commission and individual national governments should take action towards the creation of a common fiscal policy in the framework of the European Economic and Monetary Union through the furthering of current proposals stipulated in the Five Presidents’ Report and a reform of the European treaties.

Who exactly are Italy’s new government?

Italy has emerged from yet another political crisis following the general election in March with a new government, but it hasn’t been an easy ride. The big winners were the two populist parties; League from the right, a recently re-branded version of the Northern League who since the early 1990s have dominated right-wing Italian populist politics along with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, and the enigmatic Five-Star Movement (FSM) which combines a Eurosceptic approach with elements of populist leftism. Following intense negotiations over two months and the initial repudiation of Eurosceptic Paolo Savona as Minister of Economy and Finance by the Italian President Sergio Mattarella, a compromise was found and a new government formed in an unlikely populist coalition.

The history behind the coalition members

Firstly, it is important to understand that the newly re-branded League entered the election as part of a centre-right electoral coalition with Forza Italia along with other Conservative parties such as Brothers of Italy, Us with Italy and Union of the Centre, the ideological heir of the Christian Democratic party that dominated Italian politics from the 1940s until the corruption scandals of the early 1990s. They are led by Matteo Salvini who is now Deputy Prime Minister and a former MEP from Milan who also has experience of local politics on Milan council from 1993 to 2012. Salvini, known by League supporters as the ‘Captain’, was formerly a socialist in his youth before joining the Young Pandians, the youth wing of the then Northern League.

In 2013, Salvini became Northern League leader when he trounced Umberto Bossi (now in prison for corruption) in the same way Nigel Farage altered the political landscape with UKIP and the populist right in the UK. Since his election, Salvini has emphasised the party’s Euroscepticism and anti-immigration stance. Despite mixed results in local elections, the Northern League did well in the 2014 European elections.

Historically the Northern League (as the name suggests) has been a regional party which not only advocated a nationalist, Eurosceptic approach, but also acted as a separatist party arguing that the wealthy north should not fund the feckless backward south and urges if not full independence for the north, then substantial autonomy and the establishment of a federal Italian state. In this respect, there are clear similarities to the neo-Thatcherite elements of UKIP as well as the right-wing aspects of Catalan nationalism bemoaning the financially wasteful Spanish state. Indeed, the League has even developed a name for their ideal northern state, ‘Padania’, and claim themselves to be Padanian nationalists.

The Northern League emerged out of other regional parties in the 1980s such as Lega Lombarda and Allenza Nord who combined together for the purposes of the 1989 European elections before eventually amalgamating into one party in 1991. However, even after the Northern League was formed regional sections of the party remained as a form of local or sub party structure (for example Lega Nord Piemont and Lega Veneta).  In the early 1990s Italian politics was engulfed in corruption scandals (something that is shown in the excellent Italian political drama 1992) that embroiled the Christian Democrats and Socialists giving credence to the League slogan “Roma ladrona” (Rome big thief) as the party made headway in local elections- winning the Milan mayoralty in 1993 as well as having 56 deputies and 26 senators elected at the 1992 general election. Indeed, the League fought the 1994 election in alliance with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party and held some government ministries in the short-lived 1994 Berlusconi led government.

Following this the League became increasingly pragmatic, supporting centre-left administrations across Italy when necessary and performed well at the 1996 general election before claiming that they wanted the succession of Northern Italy; something that was reinforced by a bizarre ceremony when then leader Umberto Bossi took some water from the River Po which he poured into the sea near Venice two days later as a symbolic birth of the new nation of Padania. Subsequently, the League was a key Berlusconi ally following his re-election in 2001 and again from 2008 to 2011 holding a number of key ministries such as Labour, Justice and agriculture amongst others. Following the Berlusconi’s premiership, the League went into decline and factional infighting prior to Salvini’s leadership.

In contrast, the Five Star Movement is much newer having only been formed in 2009 by comedian Beppe Grillo and Gianroberto Casaleggio, a web strategist a movement that has taken Italian politics by storm and has been described as populist, anti-establishment, environmentalist, anti-globalist and Eurosceptic. Unlike the League which is a more traditional right-wing party, FSM doesn’t necessarily fit neatly into the left/right paradigm with some accusations that it is right wing due to its anti-immigration stance yet also promoting policies usually advocated by leftists such as a citizens income and environmentalism. However, members themselves argue that the FSM is just that, a movement rather than a political party. This is reflected in the strong grassroots participation which has included members forming policy through online member led votes. Indeed, the Five Stars that give the movement its name and logo include the key issues for members: public water, sustainable transport, sustainable development, right to internet access and environmentalism.

Although the Five Star Movement itself started in 2009 the origins go back to 2005 when Beppe Grillo arranged meetings for supporters of proposals in his online manifesto to meet up face to face meetings calling themselves ‘The 40 friends of Beppe Grillo’. These meetings evolved into discussions on a wide variety of topics such as technology and innovation, press communication, ethical consumerism and currency study. These gatherings expanded to national meetings in Piacenza, Turing and Sorrento led by Grillo, followed by the establishment of a national civic list of potential electoral candidates.

Grillo took things one step further in 2007 with the establishment of his ‘V’ days in 2007, with the V standing for Vaffanculo (F off). These were events that included public mobilisation and the collection of signatures in order to create laws through popular initiatives while the provocative name had references to the D-Day landings as well as the film V for Vendetta linked to the idea of political renewal. Grillo marched on, arguing for the need for a ‘clean parliament’ while also advocating for more direct democracy through referendums.

In October 2009 the FSM was born and impressive results were achieved in local elections during 2010, 2011 and 2012 with the highlight being the FSM capturing the Mayoralty of Parma. In the run-up to the 2013 general election Five Star candidates were chosen through an online primary, and, in the election itself, the FSM achieved 25% of the vote in elections to the Chamber of Deputies and 23% for the Senate. This meant 108 deputies and 54 Five Star senators were elected with Five Star the biggest party in Liguria and also in much of the south including Abruzzo, Marche, Liguria, Sicily and Sardinia, a pattern that would be repeated in the 2018 general election. However, at this stage the FSM was unable to go into government, not just because of the antipathy towards it from the then incumbent centre-left Democratic Party, but also due to its refusal to form alliances with other parties, something that was becoming essential to govern in modern Italian politics with its eccentric PR/First Past the Post hybrid electoral system.

In the 2014 European elections, Five Star achieved 21% of the vote, second place at a national level which resulted in the election of 17 MEPs. However, as a new, almost post-Ideological protest movement, the FSM lacked any European affiliation and the horse-trading regarding European Parliament affiliation began. Shortly after the election the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), a Europhile bloc that includes the Liberal Democrats in its ranks and is currently led by anti-Brexit ex-Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt rejected the FSM as a member citing there Euroscepticism and populism. Negotiations began with the Eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) headed by Nigel Farage. In an online referendum, Five Star members voted to join the EFD in preference to remaining unaffiliated or joining the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group which includes the British Conservative Party.

In terms of ideology, the FSM is unusual in European politics due to its belief in direct democracy, seeing it as an evolution of representative democracy and arguing that citizens need more direct power to ensure governments are not dominated by corporate interests. Five Star also claims that a form of ‘collective intelligence’ is now possible through the internet and chooses its Italian and European election candidates online as well as the Five Star candidate for the Italian Presidency. Furthermore, legislative proposals are decided for Five Star members as was the decision to develop a partnership with UKIP and support for the abolition of a law against immigrants, something which went against the views of the leadership.

Five Star is very emphatic that ‘politics is not a career’ and any of its representatives must consider their role as a form of temporary service which they refer to as ‘zero cost politics’ and may include the reduction of salaries of some of its elected politicians. For example, in 2012 the Sicilian branch of Five Star used the money deducted from the salaries of their representatives to help small and medium-sized businesses. Five Star is also very clear that members with a criminal record can’t run for office, something that has prevented founder Beppe Grillo from running as he has a conviction for manslaughter following a car crash.

Five Star members through an online referendum and Grillo himself also back same-sex marriage and have backed a form of basic income which would amount to around 780 per person, dependent on some minimum number of hours worked every week. Perhaps more controversially the FSM has expressed some anti-immigrant rhetoric with Grillo claiming that illegal immigrants should be expelled and the Dublin regulations which allow asylum seekers to settle in the first safe country (which in the case of refugees from North Africa is usually Italy), while Luigi Di Maio has called for ‘an immediate stop to the sea-taxi service’ from North Africa and Italy.

Interesting times lay ahead for the new Italian government who face many challenges. With factors such as a sluggish economy, tricky relations with Brussels and an immigration crisis, it is unsurprising that many are predicting the unlikely coalition to be short-lived. Even so, as the most right-wing government since the fascist era, it could certainly reshape Italian politics.

Brexit: A journey towards inglorious isolationism

No one could have imagined a referendum that would incite such intense political division. Nor could anyone have imagined a vote, the so-called ‘victory’ for democracy, that would plunge Britain into this bottomless pit of political antipathy.

Yet in the last year alone, as the relationship between Britain and Europe voyages towards an irreversible impasse, the referendum has done exactly that. And, as the EU Withdrawal Bill kick starts an acrimonious cessation, you wouldn’t be blamed for wallowing in the overwhelming sense of waste as decades of political cooperation are consigned to the dustbin of history.

For Eurosceptics, Brexit supposedly signals the regaining of control; independence from a Europe dominated by Germany and the reassertion of British sovereignty. This is, of course, is naivety at its finest; a subliminal serving of the ‘Little England’ rhetoric that sparked this destructive process.

But, for Europhiles, such as myself, Brexit signals not the success of these lofty democratic ideals, nor rational objections to the EU’s shortcomings, but rather the rejection of what is best about Europe: a common identity, cultural pluralism, and a preference for pooled sovereignty over that of bickering national parliaments.

It is difficult to be anything less than scathing when writing about the whole affair. Being a student, Brexit risks impinging the future of so many of whom have benefited from the European Project. Indeed, the referendum of 2016 has achieved nothing except to divide the nation, forcing our country’s populous into an unbreakable political and economic straitjacket.

Whilst Britain becomes deadlocked in this labyrinthine ‘divorce process’, many people will question the purpose of such a destructive vote in the first place; a vote that, in reality, has sought nothing but the importation of toxic xenophobia and provincialism.

Throughout this process, there has tended to be too much focus on the domestic impacts of such a single-minded withdrawal from the Union: economic downturns, business effects, and immigration. Whilst, of course, these are valid concerns, we must surely worry how Brexit will influence the relationship between us and our European counterparts.

Perhaps the most disappointing outcome of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU will be how our experience of Europe will at once change, and be maligned. The greatest appeal of our membership was the seemingly endless opportunities in education and career prospects. Now, this hangs very much in the balance. It seems we are not furthering our own image of a global Britain, but instead embarking on a voyage to inglorious isolationism.

As for Britain’s trajectory after negotiations, well, that remains uncertain. However, what remains clearest of all is that before 2016 our futures were not impeded by a seemingly avoidable saga of duplicity and demagogy, from the politicians whose inalienable task is to represent our best interests.

Indeed, what worries me the most is that, despite an outcry of public opposition, there seems to be no hint of a mea culpa from the Conservatives, who alone have plunged the country further into the storm of discord.

A melancholic image, perhaps, but certainly a reality. We should not be waving goodbye to Europe. Instead, we should be offering a firm kick up the backside of ‘hard Brexit’, whose very existence provides not a ‘brighter future’, but a bleak and murky reminder of our short-term gain, and long-term loss.

Does the Left actually have a problem with anti-Semitism?

Recently, there has been a wave of scathing publicity and demonstrations from Jewish community groups against Labour and its leader Jeremy Corbyn. This is as a result of the supposed tolerance of antisemitism within the party, and has been met with mixed reactions.

A handful of Labour MPs have joined in the criticism of Corbyn, while his supporters have challenged the allegations as a politically motivated attack on the Corbyn project and its wider policies. Despite the doubts as to the validity of the charges of antisemitism against Labour, the furore has motivated reflection within the British left, leading some to question whether or not the left does indeed have an antisemitism problem.

The announcement in late-February of the possible readmission to Labour of Ken Livingstone, suspended from the party for claiming that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist, reignited controversy surrounding Labour’s perceived tolerance of antisemitism. In order to address these allegations made by Jewish community groups, and echoed by some Labour MPs, an analysis of the complex evolution as to why the left is smeared with the accusation of promoting antisemitism is required.

The long and multifarious narrative of antisemitism within the European context is a chronicle of the social exclusion and oppression of Jewish peoples perpetrated by mainstream society. Historically, Europe’s two main Jewish communities were the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim, two unique groups, which up until the last century, were united primarily by faith and a shared experience of marginalisation.

The Sephardim of Southern Europe, who were largely barred from the guilds and trades, is remembered mainly for turning to money-lending in the absence of other opportunities. Their fundamental influence in shaping modern finance and banking was famously immortalised by Shakespeare. Shylock, the wicked money-lender whose greed, the Bard fantasised, drove him to demand a pound of flesh from insolvent debtors, characterises key elements of the historical antisemitic narrative; the Jewish people as a greedy cabal of pitiless usurers and pecuniary schemers.

The Yiddish speaking Ashkenazim who settled throughout most of Western, Northern, and Eastern Europe, also faced social and professional exclusion, becoming artisans and artists, jewellers and dealers, composers and musicians, and writers and academics. These are the Jews of The Fiddler on the Roof, who suffered pogroms and expulsions, and whose population produced some of history’s most influential philosophers and thinkers. Out of their colossal influence came the reputation of Jews as comprising a clever and clandestine league of legalistic-thinking political string-pullers, bent solely on world domination. Akin to the homogenisation of the Ashkenazim and Sephardim into an undifferentiated Jewish community over the last century, so too have the pejorative stereotypes of the two groups become combined into a unified modern blood libel; the Jews as a secret society united to achieve political and economic global domination.

The historic prohibition of Jews from mainstream professions, and the resulting intellectual tradition this prohibition raised, gave rise to the philosophical genesis of the modern secular left. Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, and Leon Trotsky, as well as the majority of other ‘giants’ of left, from Anarchism to the Frankfurt School, trace their roots back to Ashkenazi heritage. The massive overrepresentation of Jews in establishing the ideological foundations of the modern left makes the issue of contemporary anti-Semitism amongst the left seem historically irreconcilable.

However, with the rise of a zealous strain of nationalism during the turn of the 20th century, socialists (Jewish and non-Jewish alike) began adopting nationalist aspirations, leading to a period in which elements of the left and right became intertwined in the struggle for statehood.

Between the 1880s and the 1930s, socialists from around the globe increasingly began to adopt nationalism, autonomism, and separatism. One of the prominent socialist-leaning thinkers to adopt a nationalist cause was Theodore Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism. In founding the World Zionist Organisation, which, in the pursuit of a Jewish homeland, encouraged immigration to Palestine, and coordinated an international effort to secure a Jewish state, Herzl added a central element to the issue surrounding contemporary anti-Semitism: the unification of Zionism with global Jewish collaboration. When the World Zionist Organisation funded the creation of the World Jewish Congress as the official international federation of Jewish communities. Zionists have since sought to capitalise on this ambiguity to delegitimise opposition to the Israeli state, through charges of anti-Semitism.

The formation of the World Jewish Congress was founded on the twin pillars of creating ‘a worldwide Jewish representative body based on the concept of the unity of the Jewish people’, and establishing a ‘Jewish National Home in Palestine’. This explicit connection of Jewishness to Zionism forever linked the global Jewish population, willingly or unwillingly, to the campaign to create a nation-state in Palestine. The coordination between world Jewry (represented by the World Jewish Congress) and Zionism (represented by the World Zionist Organisation) has resulted in the development of two corresponding narratives. The first represents an update to traditional anti-Semitic conspiracy theories concerning an international plot to achieve global domination. The coordination of a worldwide body of Jewish representatives with another seeking a nation-state added a tangible element to the narrative that Jews were actively trying to take over the world. The second narrative to emerge was a direct response to the first by Zionists, who sought to purposefully conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, in order delegitimise opposition to the Zionist project.

Both of these narratives are false, and both are substantive in informing the contemporary dispute as to whether or not the left has an anti-Semitism problem.

Another critical part in determining whether or not it is legitimate to accuse the left of tolerating anti-Semitism developed out of the troubling character and partnerships the Zionist movement developed during the 1930s and 40s, when they were in pursuit of a national homeland. The sharp rise of nationalism throughout the world during this period caused a trend of seemingly unimaginable political relationships. Connections developed within the League Against Imperialism, despite its connection to the Comintern, led directly to the future collaboration of socialist-leaning Northern Irish republicans, and left-wing Breton separatists, with Nazi Germany through partnerships developed with socialist Rhinish autonomists during the 1920s. Similar to European socialist-come-nationalist groups, so too did the nationalist inspirations of the Zionists lead to seemingly incongruous relationships.

In 1933, the Zionist Federation of Germany formed an agreement with Germany to support the large-scale migration of German Jews to British Mandatory Palestine. Similar to the motivating factors behind the socialist leadership of the Irish Republic Army in Northern Ireland aligning itself with Germany under the logic that the enemy (Germany) of my enemy (Britain) is my friend, the increasing resistance of the British toward Jewish migration into Palestine encouraged European Zionists to make an agreement with Germany. The Haavara Agreement between the German state and German Zionists, which was upheld by the Eighteenth International World Zionist Congress, was not the only example of the coordination of Zionists with Germany. Two far-right wing Zionist groups that were engaged in a terrorist campaign against the British in Palestine also endeavoured to make deals with the German state in order to gain a nation-state. The Irgun and Lehi (also called the Stern Gang), led by future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who modelled themselves after the IRA and were openly sympathetic to fascism, attempted to establish an official alliance with Germany. These inconvenient historical realities, however, do not excuse Ken Livingstone’s assertion that Hitler himself was a Zionist.

Following the Holocaust, and the tumultuous birth of Israel, as well as the subsequent wars and border changes of the 1960s and 70s, the two parallel conspiracy theories continued to grow and shift. One, spread by the far-right, predicated on the age-old claims of a Jewish world conspiracy desirous of global domination enacted through control of international banking and finance and now bolstered by the state of Israel and its partnership with the American government, continued to link all Jews directly to Israel and Zionism. The other, a counter-narrative peddled by Zionists and Israeli nationalists, continued to capitalise on the concept that Jewishness and the Jewish homeland were indivisibly united in order to confound anti-Israeli arguments with anti-Semitism and argue that those who oppose Israel oppose Jews in general.

In what can only be seen as a peculiar ideological shift, historically speaking, contemporary elements of the far-right have recently adopted Israel as talisman due to the state’s perceived Islamophobia. Groups like the English Defence League began carrying Israeli flags during marches to goad counter-demonstrators who would often turn up with Palestinian flags. The championing of Israel by the far-right is directly related to the rise of the left’s criticism of Israeli expansionism and the human rights abuses committed by the state against Palestinians. An unfortunate consequence of this polarisation has been the infection of elements within the left with the far-right disease of conspiracy theories concerning the existence a Zionist Occupation Government design to establish global control. It makes ideological sense that the criticism of the power of groups such as the Rothschilds maintain over both international banking and the international Jewish Congress would appeal to the anti-capitalist sensibilities of some within the left. While support for the Palestinians, which is in line with anti-imperialist sympathies present within much of the left, has also coaxed some within it to fall prey to the notion of Israeli ultra-nationalism as being synonymous with Jewishness. It is incumbent on the left to recognise these issues and reject the temptation to buy into far-right generated conspiracies, no matter how enticing to the progressive ideology they may appear.

In response to the demand by Jewish groups that Labour deal with anti-Semitism, the left needs to commit itself to demanding explicitness and transparency in the discourse surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict, and reject any nebulousness from both within and without. It is imperative to be clear in the differentiation of what constitutes anti-Semitism and what comprises legitimate political, humanitarian, and anti-imperialist arguments against Israel, its government, and its policies.

It is not anti-Semitic to criticise the state of Israel, its actions, policies, or the historical and contemporary displacement of Palestinians by force. It is not anti-Semitic to historically analyse the coordination of the German state in the 30s with the Zionist Federation of Germany and radical right-wing Zionists in Palestine such as the Lehi, the Irgun, and Yitzhak Shamir. It is not anti-Semitic to decry the forced population transfer, expulsion, and concentration of Palestinians by the state of Israel. It is not anti-Semitic to oppose the illegal expansionism of Israel and its occupation, cleansing, and settlement of lands recognised by the world and international law as being Palestinian. It is not anti-Semitic to compare the treatment of Palestinians and Arab-Israelis by the Israeli state to that of blacks under South African apartheid. It is not anti-Semitic to denounce the camp-style internment of African migrants within Israel and plan to deport them back to locations unknown in Africa to which they did not originate and have no say in choosing. It is not anti-Semitic to boycott Israel itself or goods produced within it. And, it is not anti-Semitic to be wholly against Zionism and to even the question the right of the state of Israel to exist – just as it is not bigoted to question the right of other settler-states such as Canada to exist as from an Indigenous-rights or anti-colonial perspective.

It is anti-Semitic to deny or question the scope of the Holocaust. It is anti-Semitic to claim Hitler was a true Zionist as Ken Livingstone did. It is anti-Semitic to assert international finance is controlled by an Illuminati-like secret society headed by Jews seeking a ZOG world government. It is anti-Semitic to attack individual Israeli citizens living outside of the occupied territories and illegal settlements, just as it is inappropriate to attack average Americans, Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders for being born on land confiscated from Indigenous peoples in the past. And, it is anti-Semitic to attack or hate all Jews because of the actions of Israel and claim every to Jew to be complicit in Zionist oppression simply due to their being Jewish.

So, does the left have an anti-Semitism problem? It depends on who you ask. According to an inquiry into anti-Semitism within the Labour Party led by Baroness Chakrabarti in 2016, the answer is no. The Chakrabarti Inquiry report found that while the Party does need to be more proactive in its rejection of bigotry, it “is not over-run by anti-Semitism.” This finding was not universally accepted within Labour, however, as, shortly after the Chakrabarti report was published, Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth rejected its findings and claimed that a Corbyn-led Labour Party was not a safe space for British Jews. Due in part to Smeeth’s comments and the Labour appointment of Chakrabarti to the House of Lords shortly after the inquiry, a cross-party Home Affairs Select Committee was convened to investigate anti-Semitism within political and organisational bodies across the UK.

The Select Committee on Anti-Semitism described the Chakrabarti Inquiry as compromised and criticised the parameters of the inquiry, stating that the definition of anti-Semitism used in the report was too loose. While the Select Committee aimed criticism at all of Britain’s major political parties, it found that “there exists no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party.”

There also seems to be a lack of consensus within the Jewish community in Britain as to whether Labour suffers from endemic anti-Semitism. According to Maureen Lipman, a celebrity spokesperson for the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, Corbyn’s anti-Semitism ‘made her a Tory’. However, Lipman has also called Corbyn a Marxist and has previously claimed to have abandoned Labour when former leader Ed Miliband – who is of Jewish heritage himself – supported a motion to recognise Palestinian statehood. It must also be noted that the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism in their own study into anti-semitism within political parties found Labour members to be less anti-semitic than Tory party members. On the other side, the left-wing and Israel-sceptic Jewish group Jewdas hosted Corbyn at their Passover Seder, claiming that in Corbyn they have a pro-Jewish ally who isn’t afraid to criticise Israel. However, Corbyn’s attendance at the Seder was immediately condemned by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who claimed Jewdas to be a clearinghouse for “virulent anti-Semitism.”

In my own experience, there is a tendency within the radical reaches of the far-left to transcend anti-Zionism and enter into anti-Semitism. Having spent time at the London Action Resource Centre (LARC) in Whitechapel, East London, I have witnessed first-hand the tolerance of anti-Semitism in the name of anti-Zionism and anti-capitalism that exists within pockets of the far-left. LARC is housed, ironically, in a former synagogue located a stone’s throw from where the Battle of Cable Street took place – a street fight which pitted local Jewish residents against Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists and is widely considered to be the first antifascist action in Britain. However, despite the building’s Jewish history, in my experience volunteering at the social centre, I observed a consensus within sections of the far-left that sanctioned anti-Semitism as long as it was enveloped within anti-zionist and/or anti-capitalist rhetoric, it was acceptable.

At present, anti-Semitism is being promoted by the right, as well as conservative Jewish groups, and elements within the mainstream media, as a being a problem that disproportionately pollutes the left. However, even staunchly pro-Israel groups such as the Community Security Trust have found that the left is no more anti-Semitic than the centre-ground, and certainly less so than the right.

Due to the lack of consensus as to whether it is fair to say that the left, in general, has an anti-Semitism problem, what is required is for both the left and those claiming that Labour is a safe-haven for anti-Semitism to enter into an honest and explicit dialogue as to what constitutes anti-Semitism so that it can be appropriately dealt with. In order to do so, both sides must disavow themselves of any narratives and conspiracy theories that may drive a wedge between the progressive left and Jewish community groups.

The left must explicitly reject any temptation from within to subscribe to the historically embedded narrative of pan-Jewish plans for a New World Order. Rehashing imagery of global Jewry populating a ZOG cabal that controls the banks and fundamentally manipulates the American and Israeli governments by way of worldwide Jewish ‘deep state’ simply discredits legitimate opposition to contemporary Israeli policy and must be vociferously cast off by the left.

On the other side, the constant equation of anti-Israeli opinion with anti-Semitism must stop. It is disingenuous and only serves to stoke the fires of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Maintaining the line that those who oppose Israel, including Jewish groups like Jewdas, do so out of anti-Semitism is counterproductive to a meaningful resolution. If pro-Israeli forces continue to reject any critique of Israel and its historical or contemporary policies as being one and the same, or inspired by, anti-Semitism, the left’s capacity to tackle genuine anti-Semitism within its ranks will be severely impeded.

In the end, what is needed to solve the debate over the left’s alleged anti-Semitism problem is consistency and explicitness on all sides. The left and Jewish community groups must reject those within their ranks who perpetuate false narratives and conspiracy theories. Only then can all sides enter into a meaningful dialogue.

How Neo-Liberalism killed wage growth

The success of more radical politicians should not be a surprise, since the 1980s and the dawn of Neo-Liberalism the working class have suffered and inequality has widened.

Since the Thatcher era in the 80s, productivity has increased dramatically due to automation and technological advances. And whilst productivity rose, in soared the era of globalisation where workers wages have remained stagnant.

Keynes’s Golden Age vs Neo-Liberalism and the Washington Consensus:

A reason why we no longer tax the rich properly:

How capitalism has failed the majoirty: UK

^ In addition to this, 16 million working age people in the UK have less than £100 in savings, living paycheck to paycheck. Prior to 1980 the UK peoples were net savers, post 1980 you can see whats happened.

^ This chart shows that the majority of new income generated from the explosion of profits post 1980 has not been passed on to those who created those profits. It’s gone to our corporate elite, not the workforce.

How capitalism has failed the majoirty: USA

For a country that has no universal healthcare nor free education to spend that much on war does nothing more than create enemies with whom to fight. US total military spending + reserve = $1Trillion a year. For Comparison, Russia spends $60Billion. As does the UK. The banks however are making a killing off Arms in general.
What happened to executive pay post 1980: US

^ This doesn’t even cover their hard assets. This is just the excess cash they don’t know what to do with because there is virtually no return on investment to be found in the global economy and you can only buy so many shares before the returns do not match your outlay. It is now $12 Trillion and counting as of 2016 and its also a big driver behind a rising stock market above a stagnant global economy.

When wage theft took off the in the USA

UK- A mirror image

You can replicate this picture in most capitalist countries. A model exported via financial markets of the US & UK over the 1980’s and 90’s is now dominant. It is supply side economics or “neoliberal” economics as the media likes to say without a clue as to its history (nor the citizens of Chile murdered for its founding, but that’s another story).
Generally speaking, modern capitalist economics doesn’t give a damn how much money is in your pocket, you are only a consumer. Only when you can’t increase your consumption year on year by taking on more debt do the asset owning classes care (1929/2008) but only enough to pillage your country’s savings to allow them to keep lending you the wages you no longer get for what you produce for them per hour, and haven’t done since before 1980, never to change.
Indeed,it’s getting worse.

Points of interest:

66% of all shares globally are owned by 1% of the population. That 1% decide the board of directors who make decisions in their interests that effect the economics and thus lives of billions of people.

In the UK, half the working age population has less than £100 in the bank. Thats 16 million people. The next 4 million have less than £1000. These are working people, in their millions, that after working the entire year wouldn’t have enough left in the bank to pay for a new combi boiler. The USA and many other western nations are no better.

The solution:
Question: Do I think going back to the laws and tax rates of 1945 -> 1980 (a return to Keynesian economics) will help? NO. If we reverse history with laws, when we are grey and mostly gone, the new generation of the 1% will use their wealth to undo everything working people achieved, as they have done many times before. The repeat of history has to stop if this world is to survive, the instabilities of capitalism have to end if all our people are to live with dignity. And you can only do that with systemic change.

How Modern Socialism can solve these problems, and what Corbyn wants

Along with this is a law that UK Labour party will pass that states that any company selling up, merging, off shoring, or closing, its’ workers will be given the option to take control of and operate the company or the buildings and equipment that the company has here if a multinational chooses to leave, and the public bank Jeremy will create will provide the loans to do so.
The corporations will not be allowed to take the equipment and resources the UK taxpayer subsidised if they leave. The workers left behind take that over. It’s called Democracy @ work and Germany already has similar laws including that 45% of the board of directors of a company employing over 1000 people must be taken from the base work force. All combined, it’s a major reason why their manufacturing hasn’t buggered off to China.

If the UK/USA had these laws by 1980 the last 40 years would have been very different indeed. It would have made it so much more difficult for capitalism to abandon the country’s in which it grew up, and with the tools and factories left behind turned over to the workers the corporate elites would have to compete with the workers they left behind for their UK market share which they would lose once the word got out in favour of the UK workers at X factory v shoddy Chinese goods from x Global Capitalist Supranational Corporation.

We are told three lies regarding Karl Marx & Socialism by our historians, teachers, parents, media, and the defenders and beneficiaries of capitalism:

The Media Says Socialism is:
1) Central planning

2) Government ownership

3) Single party rule i.e. the USSR on wards …

He never wrote a single word on these three topics above, nor did he ever propose “an economic model to follow”. He was a critic of capitalism. For the private sector, he wanted nothing less than democracy at work in order to save capitalism from itself and save us from capitalism. He saw and documented the future from 150 years ago, and our leaders response was to discredit him through manipulations of economic fact and history taught from the youngest age in the farthest schools for eternity.

His entire and only focus was on the problems and injustices of capitalism and how to solve them, this is why our ‘Captains of Capitalism’, our education, our historians and the media have lied to us for generations. His life and writing are a danger to the slave master relationship that the asset owning classes want regardless of the country where they control the show, capitalism promised to get rid of this slave master relationship which is a hangover from feudalism with liberty, equality, and fraternity and then it failed to do so anywhere on this earth, instead creating a global version of the hunger games with a trans boarder capable elite.

In summary, Capitalism, has collapsed twice in 75 years and had 11 downturns in between for the USA, 6 for the UK, now entering the 12th/7th since the depression. We need to move far quicker than we are at reclaiming our economies for the many not the few.

How Walmart corrupted ASDA, at the taxpayer’s expense

Walmart is the world’s largest corporation. It truly is the poster child for corporate America and boasts an annual revenue of $482,000,000,000.

What people are often not aware of, is that Walmart is stripping capital out of countries where it was earned and laundering it through a complex web of subsidiary companies in tax havens around the world.

Currently, it is estimated that there is upwards of $76,000,000,000 hidden in these tax havens. This corporate behaviour is seldom seen in retail, but due to Walmart’s global reach, they have been able to exploit the same tax avoiding schemes normally reserved for Banks. This allows Walmart to shift profits offshore through unfathomably convoluted methods.

Subsidiary companies established to avoid taxation
In 1999, Asda was bought by Walmart for £6.7 billion for it to become one of many subsidiaries of the giant multinational company. Under Walmart governance the store saw great increases in profit year on year, but in 2008 Asda generated £520.4m in profit before tax, which was down from £532.7m the previous year.

This, on the surface of it, seems like the store had declined in that year and therefore, logically, the chief executive has not done the best of jobs for that year. This, however, was not the case. Asda’s accounts for the year revealed that chief executive Andy Bond’s pay, not including pension contributions, rose by 19% to £1.27m.

This pay rise is likely due to ‘group restructuring’ that involved Wal-Mart Stores (UK) to ‘sell’ 3.1bn ordinary shares in Asda in return for a £5.7bn cash payment and £1.24bn in shares from Corinth Services Limited, which is also a subsidiary of Wal-Mart Group Company.

At the same time as this deal was taking place, five Asda directors were appointed to Corinth’s board, joining existing directors Andy Bond, Asda’s chief executive, and Judith McKenna, Asda’s finance director.

An Asda spokesman said this was underpinned by ‘good financial management’ reasons. When asked if the move was tax driven, he declined to comment, and insisted that the companies were registered in the UK.

While the spokesman went out of his way to stress that Corinth was a UK registered company, this serves to implicitly say ‘we aren’t using offshore tax havens as shell companies’. However, because these corporations have the best legal minds at bay, this point becomes moot. Our taxation system is dated and cannot accurately regulate a globalised economy, and because of this tax can be greatly minimised here in the UK via unfathomably convoluted methods. For instance, this year, Corinth had a tax bill of £4,660,000 on profits of £431,353,000 (see below).

While this is the amount of tax they were liable to pay, they actually got a tax credit for this exact amount of money (see below). Also, notice the year before that saw a tax credit of £128,747,000.

Asda will argue that this money was paid in some way shape or form by one of the other subsidiary companies in the corporate structure. But, this just highlights the lunacy of corporate management. Why on earth does one company need several different companies to handle business? The ‘group restructuring’ certainly didn’t simplify the company’s operations, but rather allows ASDA to thrive in the obscurity of corporate tax law that relies on exploitation of loopholes.

Use of tax havens
This network of subsidiary companies is governed by intermediate parent companies in tax havens which allow the company almost complete privacy from scrutinising eyes. While we cannot, legally, access the accounts of these companies in tax havens, the very nature of the tax havens leave very little to the imagination and provides compelling circumstantial evidence that subsidiaries are an integral part of the Walmart’s global business affairs.
The first thing that is glaringly apparent is that Walmart conducts no retail business from these tax haven subsidiaries and rarely employ anyone below director. The second cause for suspicion in this dubious corporate behaviour is that Walmart has 27 subsidiaries in Luxembourg and the Netherlands with assets valued at $77.6 billion. There is no verifiable information about assets held in other tax havens

As detailed earlier, Asda is owned by Corinth Services Limited, and as the spokesman stated, it is domiciled in the UK. However, Corinth Services Limited has an intermediate parent company between itself and Walmart Inc. What the spokesman did not disclose is that Corinth is owned by Amsterdam based ‘Broadstreet European Holdings cooerpatie BA’, and Luxembourg based ‘Azure Holdings Sarl’ – to which Walmart is the ultimate parent company.

The rationale behind this is that Walmart transfers ownership of its foreign operating companies to subsidiaries in tax havens. The UK has at least 10 of these subsidiaries operating under the guise of ‘holdings groups’ or ‘investment services’. They have no employees below that of director and pay virtually no tax.

Ownership is then transferred from these subsidiaries to shell companies in tax havens.

These shell companies play a middleman-like role in multinational corporations’ international tax-planning strategies as they are not expected to pay income tax where the money was earned. Rather, they are *expected* to pay taxes in their home country, the US, on the income they receive from the entity. This system allows Walmart to effortlessly shift earnings around the globe.

In 2016 Asda transferred a£450 million dividend to Asda Holdings UK limited. The dividend was the first Asda had paid to Wal-mart since 2009 and the biggest since the £1.4 billion it paid in 2003.

A further trail of documents shows a higher dividend sum of £505 million was then transferred from yet another Wal-Mart owned company based in Britain to Amsterdam based Broadstreet European Holdings cooerpatie BA. It should be noted that ASDA’s profits have been down this year, and therefore seems odd that they make dividend payments at this time.

While Walmart is concentrating a lot of its foreign earnings in Luxembourg through dividend payments, they’re paying very little tax there. Between 2010 and 2013, Walmart’s subsidiaries reported paying 0.18% tax ($2.4 million) to Luxembourg on $1.3 billion in profits.

Not only does Walmart strip earnings out of countries via the methods discussed, they also generate about $1.5 billion worth of tax deductions in Luxembourg each year by making ‘phantom’ interest payments to WMT Global Holdings Limited Liability Partnership – registered in the UK but owned by Wal-Mart international holdings Inc. and WM Sarhco 1, LLC – by using what tax planners call hybrid loans which effectively makes this income disappear for tax purposes in both Luxembourg and the US.

Money is also ‘invested’ in various tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands and Luxembourg.

The company has its foreign operating companies take out long-term loans from Walmart subsidiaries in tax havens and thereby generates tax-deductible interest payments to those subsidiaries. This allows Walmart to dodge taxes in countries where it earns profits by simply paying interest to itself in places where the interest will be taxed lightly or not at all. This is known as earnings stripping.

The most compelling evidence for this intercompany tax avoidance scheme is seen in Walmart’s UK retailer – Asda.

Analysis of financial statements issued by Asda subsidiaries demonstrates that Walmart has avoided $850 million in UK taxes from 2004 through 2014 by transferring £2.06 billion – roughly ¼ of Asda’s earnings – to Walmart subsidiaries in Luxembourg via tax-deductible interest payments.

Due to the opaque nature of Walmart’s financial transactions and use of subsidiaries in tax havens it makes it difficult to assert this is their intention as documentation is not publically available. However, previous multinationals such has Amazon and Apple have been proven to have operated under this methodology and is consistent with the interpretation that it is to avoid as much tax as possible.
Why stockpile earnings in tax havens?

In July 2011, Mike Duke – ex Walmart CEO – testified before the Senate Finance Committee in favour of a ‘territorial’ tax system that would exempt foreign earnings of US based multinationals from US income tax.
If this system were to come into effect Walmart and many other US multinationals would be able to repatriate £2.1 trillion in profits that are currently offshore and untaxable by the US.
It seems as though Walmart has been biding its time and stockpiling its low-taxed foreign earnings offshore in anticipation of the Republican tax ‘reform’ bill, which would ‘bigly’ reduce the tax rate paid on current offshore profits that have not been taxed where they were earned and exempt them from US taxation under a territorial tax system.

In this time Walmart’s offshore ‘earnings’ have more than doubled, and international spending has declined. Walmart will argue that the money has been ‘indefinitely reinvested’, but this is an outright lie. Instead of reinvesting in the stores and employees of Asda, they have been siphoning the money to Luxembourg and forcing the staff to take the burden by cutting hours and staff.

Walmart not only indirectly steals money from economies by not paying fair share of tax
Research published by Citizens UK found that companies in the UK don’t pay staff enough and therefore forcing them to rely on government assistance. ASDA, as well as other big supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsburys and Morrisons) are costing the tax payer just under £1,000,000,000 a year in tax credits paid to top-up criminally low salaries.

This system is enabled by our government because it essentially gives the green light to these supermarkets as they know they can continue to offer low wages and have them supplemented by tax payer money.
Asda argues that this state intervention allows them to keep prices low for the consumers. But, at a time when public spending is being axed and a cap being placed on public sector jobs, is it really reasonable to expect the tax payer to fit the bill for the likes of Asda to continue to make outlandish profits whilst they continue to exploit their workers?

This goes against a classic concept in economics. Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ tells us that for a capitalistic economy to work, people should only work in their own interest, and he went on to stress that when people (corporations) claim to be acting in the interest of the consumer, this should be seen as a warning sign.

The whole notion of tax credits was introduced by Labour in 1997 and was to lift the low-paid out of poverty. This legislation was introduced when Britain was a staunch manufacturing nation. However, as the markets have shifted from manufacturing to a more services-based economy, the labour markets have been hollowed out. This shift has had the effect that those at the top are doing incredibly well with the stock market on a seemingly endless assent, but this funnelling of money to the top of the system has the effect of implying that the economy is excellent with record profits and soaring stock markets, while pushing more and more people into low paid, government assisted employment. One thing that can’t be stressed enough, is that the stock markets and company profits are not the bench mark for measuring how well an economy is doing.

It is easy to think that this is an accurate measurement of an economy, but these figures are only made possible by those at the base of the labour pyramid. For instance, consider a cheerleading pyramid – 3 on the bottom, 2 in the middle, and one on the top. The person on the top is supported by the two lower structures, and without them, the person on top would not occupy the position on top.

The tax credit system and other benefit schemes are only viable if they are used to top up particularly low paying jobs in fairly rare circumstances. But, as low paying jobs become more prevalent, the system becomes less of a safety net, and then becomes normalised as a fact of working life.

When employers expect these handouts to their staff, they have no incentive to pay higher wages. All this is happening during a time when trade unions are being weakened and therefore strengthening employers’ ability to exploit their work forces.

This is not to say that corporations are evil and should be eradicated. They are not people and are therefore amoral. They are incentivised to make as much profit as the rules (law) will allow them to make. It’s our governments that enable this behaviour and while I, and many others think this activity is repugnant, it’s irrelevant. However because companies like this have a hive-like mind, no one is responsible for their behaviour and therefore no one feels a sense of guilt.

The myth of trickledown economics
This is the ugly manifestation of a well-established falsifiable economics model – trickledown economics.
This economic theory massively favours the wealthy by catering to their every need and allowing them huge tax breaks and other benefits. This, in turn, is theorised to ‘trickledown’ onto everyone else in the economy. But this has been proven time and time again not to work and demonstrates a strong positive correlation between trickledown economics and reduced growth, and instead finding that higher taxes on the wealthy is linked to economic growth.
If trickledown economics was working, ASDA wouldn’t force its staff to rely on government assistance, and the previously outlined stockpiles of cash in tax havens would be trickling down on us all.

Instead, we are shamed into relying on government programs, even when we have a job.

Capitalism is based on free-market forces, but in a world where our citizens are forced to rely on the state while multinational corporations bleed dry our economies by extracting billions, can we honestly say we are capitalists?
There is a two-tier economic system in play, in which the majority of us are under socialist rule with very little state assistance as there are scarce resources, and the minority are enjoying the fruits of capitalism.

If you are wondering why our beloved ‘free press’ isn’t reporting any of this, it’s because they (‘mostly’ right wing press) use the similar loopholes to avoid paying taxes. They can’t point the finger without turning themselves in. It’s not journalists that are guilty (I hope), but rather the media barons that own the paper that would likely lift any story that could cause a stir. This would also explain the predisposition of many outlets favouring Brexit, because the EU is enacting an ‘Anti Tax Avoidance Directive’ that comes into force in 2019, which, as pointed out by a savvy twitter user, coincides with the time frame of the UK leaving the EU.

Contrary to popular opinion, Brexit does not mean Brexit, and we should be sceptical of those who stand to benefit from lack of EU oversight.

When the Conservative government says we have no money, they’re right. But, the reason we skint as a country is because our hard earned cash that is being spent on everyday essentials is being siphoned to tax havens and collecting dust until a corporate friendly government is sat in the oval office that will reward their criminal behaviour with further tax breaks on foreign earnings.

Lord Ashcroft – The story of the Tory Donor who has dodged £127 million in tax

Michael Ashcroft – 95th richest person in the UK – is worth a respectful £1,350,000,000, according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2017. Ashcroft has an interesting back story and appears to embody a classic story of success built upon savvy business acumen. That said, after establishing himself as a prominent figure in the city, he turned to becoming a major donor to the Conservative party. However, this Tory bank fund was not without its controversies originating from Lord Ashcroft’s non-domicile status which allows claimants to pay very little in UK income tax.
During his tenure, David Cameron was subjected to public pressures to reveal Lord Ashcroft’s tax status, but dismissed the pressure and insisted it was a private matter and therefore not admissible to the general public. This was because during the 2010 election cycle, the large donations received by the Tory campaign from Ashcroft, prompted Cameron to overlook this ethical quagmire by claiming it was his ‘patriotic duty’ to beat Labour candidate Gordon Brown. In response to this, then home secretary Alan Johnson accused the Tories of hypocritically weaponising ‘patriotism’ by allowing funding from someone he viewed as ‘basically unpatriotic’.

When the coalition government with the Liberal Democrats came into power, Ashcroft received nothing in return for his ‘generosity’ to Cameron’s campaign. The driving force behind this snub is believed to have been due to Nick Clegg’s intervention, blocking Cameron from appointing Ashcroft to a high ranking role in the new government.
Cameron later offered Ashcroft junior whip in the foreign office, to which Ashcroft replied ‘After putting my neck on the line for nearly 10 years – both as party treasurer under William Hague and as deputy chairman – and after ploughing some £8m into the party, I regarded this as a declinable offer. It would have been better had Cameron offered me nothing at all.’

Establishment quarrels aside, this ‘pay for play’ system cannot and should not be acceptable in a functioning democracy, let alone these figures feeling emboldened enough to openly discuss their disenfranchisement after failing to bribe their way into relevance.

In addition, because Ashcroft and many other non-domiciled establishment figures exploit loopholes in our taxation system, an amendment was introduced to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill in 2010.
The amendment requires all MPs and peers to be domiciled in the UK for tax purposes. This prompted Lord Ashcroft to surrender his status as a non-domicile resident in the UK to retain his seat in the House of Lords. However, in March 2015, Lord Ashcroft announced he was resigning his seat because his business activities did not allow him ‘to devote the time that membership properly requires’. This abrupt resignation of his seat was bizarre given his prominent interest in UK politics and thusly prompted the question – did he resign his seat to restore his non-domicile status and reduce his UK tax bill?

This question went unanswered by Ashcroft, but a document obtained by The Independent demonstrated in the week proceeding his resignation, Lord Ashcroft sold 350,000 shares in an American company netting him £7,600,000. If Ashcroft retained his peership, UK taxation law would have taken 28% of this through capital gains (£2,100,000). However, if the sale was completed at the beginning of a new financial year, he could reinstate as a non-domicile citizen and avoid this cost, as the shares were in an American company, and therefore regarded foreign earnings by the HMRC. A spokesman for Lord Ashcroft declined to comment on his tax status.

Margaret Hodge, then Labour chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said ‘It cannot be right that the system allows people to opt in and out of non-domicile status depending on their circumstances in any given year’.
While Lord Ashcroft stood down from his seat, he continues to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on polling and owns several political websites including Conservative Home.

The Billionaire ex-Tory peer is aptly nicknamed as Britain’s ‘Pollfather’. However, it is no secret that as a House of Lords peer he ran polls and targeted marginal constituencies for David Cameron. Since he stepped down from the House of Lords, many have speculated that he was no longer beholden to the Conservatives and therefore regarded as a neutral pollster by which many believe will enable unprecedented tactical voting. This supposition of neutrality is difficult to maintain considering Ashcroft’s lifelong support of the Conservatives and even more so considering his estimated donations are said to top £10,000,000.

Ashcroft truly is an excellent pollster, but in 2005, when working in the interest of David Cameron, more controversy was born after he privately funded ‘the biggest political polling exercise in British history’.
The polls were carried out by YouGov and Populus, and estimated to have cost £250,000. However, sources told the Guardian, that the bills were paid by one of Ashcroft’s companies in Belize, which would have allowed him to dodge VAT of about £40,000.

Treasury spokesman for the Liberal Democrats told the Guardian: ‘This is quite serious. We are now not talking just about Ashcroft’s non-dom status, but about systematic tax avoidance in funding Conservative party activities such as polling. How far were the Conservatives aware that Ashcroft did not pay VAT, as would have been incurred by any normal polling activity?’

In response to the allegations, a Conservative spokesperson said ‘We do not recognise this as Conservative party polling.’ For those of us not familiar with the tongue of the ruling class, this roughly translates to ‘am a bovad?’

This more recent controversy concerning the right honourable gentleman’s dubious behaviour is not new, rather, more of the same. For instance, letters published by The Guardian between Tony Blair, Lord Thomson, and William Hague in 1999/2000 demonstrate a lifelong pattern of this behaviour.

Also, in 1999, Ashcroft’s international business activities were further marred in controversy after an intelligence research specialist for the US drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) leaked Ashcroft’s name as being on their radar.

The Times – Rupert Murdoch’s attempt at a high-brow paper – printed these allegations on their front page. However, if you trust Ashcroft’s Wikipedia page, ‘later investigation by various British media sources from information released under the US Freedom of Information Act showed that at no point did the DEA personally investigate Ashcroft’.

On March 31st 2000, Ashcroft came to be successfully nominated to the House of Lords and sought legal action against The Times. After a back-and-forth between the two parties, they decided to settle the issue out of court which resulted in The Times printing a full front page retraction of its allegations ‘The Times is pleased to confirm that it has no evidence that Mr Ashcroft or any of his companies have ever been suspected of money-laundering or drug related crimes… Litigation between the parties has been settled to mutual satisfaction, with each side bearing its own costs’.

So, this leaves two alternatives: 1) The Times openly admits to lying to its readership/country 2) Ashcroft and Murdoch cut a mutually beneficial deal behind closed doors

As a true believer in the excellent service Wikipedia provides, I, like everyone else who uses the site, should check the references for credibility. The previous quote claims to reference a Guardian article that wholly exonerates the right honourable gentleman – yet provides a hyperlinked source which doesn’t seem to exist, and while ‘technically correct’, is omitting key elements of what actually happened – including high ranking Tories leaning on the BBC’s Panorama investigation into Lord Ashcroft.

Ashcroft was correct when he said there wasn’t any evidence implicating him directly with crimes and the DEA was not investigating him of doing so. However, the tax haven he controls in Belize, as with most, encourages fraud, money laundering, drugs and bribery in the area with corruptible officials.

Ashcroft began his don’t ask don’t tell business venture in the early 1990s when he bought a controlling stake in the largest local bank – the Belize Bank – and encouraged local politicians to pass laws that encourage secretive offshore financial dealings, and rewarded such officials by paying annual registration fees to the government – to us common folk, these can be referred to as bribes.

This unregulated environment created a hot bed for illegal activities such as:
The Banner Fund. Two Californians funnelled UK/US tax payers out of $6.5mThe Ricke case. US drug smugglers moved $700,000 of ill-gotten gains into Belize offshore companies – though not proven. One $25,000 was reportedly paid into the bank controlled by Ashcroft – though no evidence the bank or Ashcroft knew the money was dirtyThe half-ton of cocaine. DEA arrested a trafficker linked to the Cali cartel. However, the embassy reported ‘he effortlessly escaped from imprisonment’ in 1995 – aided by incentivised officials. This fiasco ended with Washington listing Belize as ‘a major drug transit country’.

All this morally bankrupt, yet completely legal, activity began after the International Business companies (IBC) act was legislated in 1990 which allowed individuals to establish shell companies to outmanoeuvre one’s tax authority.

Due to the lack of credible government oversight during legislation, IBCs were not mandated to be audited. Therefore, fake/shell companies can declare profits without evidencing where the money came from – tax free of course – and then legally transfer the money to a bank account in their home country.

Ashcroft, however, has a different spin of events. In 1996 Ashcroft gave his interpretation of events at the US embassy. ‘Ashcroft insisted that little, if any, money laundering is conducted in Belize,’ said an embassy official.

However, for example, the aforementioned Ricke Case was not proven. This is due to the anonymous nature of IBCs. The properties were listed under ownership of several anonymous entities, of which the ownership was protected by the way the Act was legislated.

So, while Ashcroft was ‘technically correct’ that he was not being directly investigated for criminal activity, it is no secret that his bank and legislative efforts created this environment for nefarious activity.
So, in light of information discussed, it seems The Times were onto something which may not be illegal, but certainly ethically dubious.

Returning to the suggested possibility of a deal between Ashcroft and Murdoch regarding coverage of Ashcroft’s potential criminal activity, an interesting timeline of events emerges, particularly after Ashcroft’s 2004 $1,000,000 donation to the Australian ‘liberal’ party that was, and still is, backed by Murdoch. Was this the deal the two cut behind closed doors?

Ashcroft is just one of many establishment elites who exploit our archaic taxation system, to incur wealth that can objectively be viewed as stolen from UK government services such as the NHS, in order to bolster his economic and political status.

It is high time we expose these elitists and take action against ‘the few’ in the name of ‘the many’
We cannot continue to have an elitist party in government that turns a blind eye to elicit dealings and in return gets campaign donations.