Crimestoppers is an ‘independent’ crime-fighting charity. They operate largely on anonymous tips from the public and have genuinely been a force for good in tracking down and raising awareness of crime and terrorism. Despite this however, it is alarmingly apparent that they do not chase down financial crimes with the same veracity. This needs to change.
On first inspection of the board of directors, it is no surprise that the charity does not consider financial crimes to be worthy of public attention or criminal condemnation. This is because the board of trustees is packed with Lords and people who have won OBEs/CVOs/QPMs/CBEs/BEMs (i.e. not exactly representative of the country).
I have no doubt that the majority of those listed have genuinely good intentions, but I also know that they likely represent the upper echelons of the social classes. This results in an implicit bias towards not investigating ethically dubious financial behaviour such as those committed by the incorrigibly corrupt Lord Ashcroft.
We at The People’s News reported the various tax avoidance schemes employed by Ashcroft in great detail, and the BBC Panorama documentary exposed his activity to the nation. I, like many others, assumed this to be a turning point and that change was imminent. I was wrong, nothing has, or will change, because those who have the means to pursue such contemptible behaviour are also those most likely to be guilty of it. This, in part, is because they do not see what they are doing as criminal, which is technically correct as they are operating within the law. However, the reason this activity is still legal is because figures like Ashcroft donate (legally bribe) millions to the Conservatives, and his polling data is instrumental during election campaigning (e.g. if polls indicate a labour seat is vulnerable, they can channel efforts to the constituency in an effort to flip the seat to Conservatives).
Additionally, the reason the rich don’t feel like they are behaving criminally is because the consequences of their actions are deferred, making it easy for the wealthy to dissociate themselves from any wrongdoing. Alternatively, for example, if violent behaviour results in the death of another person, causation is clear (i.e. the actions of the aggressor were unambiguously the cause of death).
We are all somewhat guilty of overlooking the serious consequences of financial crimes, but I argue that they are far more pervasive than any physically violent crime. To illustrate this more clearly, let us reconsider the hypothetical example of violent behaviour resulting in the death of another person. It is painfully clear that the person who died, died as a consequence of the violent behaviour of the aggressor, and the aggressor will likely be criminally charged.
However, it is important that we clarify the criminal element of this hypothetical. For instance, violence itself is not illegal, and there are situations in which you can be violent such as in boxing and various other contact sports. Therefore, whether a person has committed a crime is predicated upon the consequences of the violence (injury or death), and not the violence itself. This is how the rich and the Conservatives are able to dissociate themselves from the devastating impact of their greed. For instance, it is difficult to argue that the consequences of a psychically violent crime were not the consequence of the violent behaviour by the aggressor because of the temporal proximity of the act and the consequence, whereas the consequences of tax avoidance are more nuanced and deferred, thereby allowing the aggressor (i.e. tax-avoider) to almost entirely dissociate themselves from any wrongdoing. Instead of tax avoidance immediately resulting in the death of another, it manifests slowly due to reduced funding for government support such as that provided by the NHS, and results in countless more deaths. Support for this loosely abstract comparison can be found in recent research published by the British Medical Journal that correlated this cruel application of a proven to be ineffective economic policy to over 120,000 avoidable deaths under during Conservative rule.
It is perhaps a tad inflammatory and hyperbolic to attribute these deaths to the Tories, but it is getting more and more difficult to resist this assertion when educated, non-political, people such as those being published in the British Medical Journal are correlating these deaths to the elite greed and contempt for the working classes. People like Ashcroft can no longer claim blissful ignorance. As of right now, given what we know about the impacts of this draconian understanding of economics, the elite can no longer dissociate themselves from the consequences of their actions.
I feel like this article has been crystal clear, but then again, I think we as a people are often blindsided into downplaying this type of behaviour. Therefore, the rest of this article will focus on trying to contextualise this in a way that I feel it warrants. To do this, consider the definition of the word ‘terrorist’.
We are accustomed to othering terrorists as predominantly Muslim, ISIS related scourges on democracy that use violence to push their agenda. However, no terrorist organisation of any affiliation can boast of killing 120,000 English people. We need to reconceptualise our understanding of the word violence. We all too readily recognise the physically violent behaviour that ISIS use in pursuit of political aims, but because of the deferred relationship between elite greed and the deaths of the most vulnerable in our country, it is difficult to inspire the same emotional response as that from death as a result of another’s violent behaviour. For instance, the 120,000 avoidable deaths reported by the British Medical Journal are not evenly distributed among the social classes, but instead, with almost surgical precision, they are heavily biased towards poor, working class people. It is important to note that I am not suggesting this is an overarching conspiracy to suppress the working class vote by culling the population, but rather, an unintended, yet convenient, consequence of the greed of the elites.
If we want change in our politics we need to take a more active role in the politics of our country. Whether that be holding to account those that pursue criminal and societally pervasive behaviour such as Crimestoppers, or collectively condemning the legal bribes taken by the government from the likes of Ashcroft.
Finally, as I am sure many of you reading are deeply concerned about the criminal behaviour of those governing our country and those claiming to be upholding the law of the land, I encourage you all to call CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111 and air your grievances.
Alternatively, you can anonymously report the behaviour by filling in this online form.