Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Proposals for Tax Reform after Brexit: VAT

This is the first of a series of proposals from me, to enhance the UK after Brexit. It is NOT Green Party policy, but I would like it to be!
Value Added Tax (VAT) in the UK is a tax on spending with numerous exceptions, which makes it a complicated system.
There is a strong argument for reform of VAT after Brexit, in particular in relation to imports. Currently VAT is charged on some, but by no means on all, imports. However, the VAT charged on imports can be set off against VAT charged on subsequent sales, i.e. it is fully recoverable if you are VAT registered.
After leaving the single market, the UK will be free from EU VAT regulations. My proposal consists of three stages:
1. Reduce the VAT rate to 15% from the current high level of 20%, which would reduce the cost of all purchases, both imported AND UK produced, by about 4%.
2. Put VAT on all imports, most importantly on overseas service and management charges, which are used by offshore companies to avoid UK corporate taxes. VAT would also be imposed on all food imports, including the over-pricing of commodities by multi-nationals, which is also used to avoid taxation, and on meat. This would be a disincentive to the long distance transfer of foodstuffs (and animals)and encourage more local production, upon which VAT would not be charged. It is also likely to reduce meat consumption, in favour of locally produced vegetables.
3. Stop VAT on imports being recoverable. This would undoubtedly increase the cost of imports, but it is likely that:
(a) it would be an incentive to produce more goods and services locally in the UK and reduce the record levels of imports, now running at £582bn a year;
(b) it would be allowable as a business expense, thus being partially mitigated for importers by a reduced corporation tax bill (if they pay their taxes);
(c) competition would encourage importers not to pass on all of the extra costs to their customers, to avoid being priced out of the market;
(d) the extra cost to consumers for imports would encourage people to prefer locally sourced goods and services;
(e) the extra cost to consumers would be more than mitigated by the overall reduction in VAT on ALL their purchases, both imports and locally sourced;
(f) be a major disincentive for tax avoidance using charging for "fictitious" overseas services, such as management costs or over-priced commodities.
(g) it would, at current rates, bring in an additional £80bn+ in revenue to the UK treasury, which could be used to improve the NHS and social care;
(h) it is likely to reduce consumption overall, as part of a "de-growth" economic strategy, which was recommended for economically developed countries,after the 2013 climate change talks in Warsaw.
Such a change would challenge EU rules and would probably flout World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules as well. But it would be in line with the Green Leaves proposal to shun all free trade agreements, like TTIP and CETA.
However, it is also likely that retaliatory action might be taken by other countries, in the form of tariffs on UK exports, but as imports to the UK outweigh exports from the UK, this is something that can be negotiated favourably on a bilateral basis with each country or trading bloc, particularly the EU, whose exports to the UK are already £70bn more than the imports from the UK.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Brexit and the Kindness of Strangers

Once again we have civil servants and politicians telling us we need ten years to negotiate trade deals with the EU before we can have Brexit. This is what Hitler called the big lie, something obviously untrue, but if you keep saying it then people will begin to believe it.
The reality is that we do not need trade deals, as we have our biggest and most profitable trading area right here on our doorstep. It is called the UK.
And the same civil servants and politicians, who oppose Brexit, have spent thirty years actively undermining the UK economy in the name of "free trade". As a result we have an unsustainable trade deficit, which is the biggest challenge facing the UK, not our lack of trade deals.
Earlier in 2016, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, called it "the kindness of strangers". This is the willingness of foreign banks and institutions to finance the UK's massive trade deficit .
A dangerous and insecure foundation for any economy.
Yet throughout the debates about Brexit and the UK's position in the world, the trade deficit has not been something that any of the political parties or civil servants discussed. Not even the Green Party, despite the fact that it is a major factor in the sustainability of the UK economy.
Greens should be asking: are EU economic policies sustainable, or should we be striving for a more self-sufficient society? This is the big question that I believe the Green Party leadership failed to ask itself before the EU referendum. Will we get a more sustainable society inside or outside the European Union?
If it is about anything, Brexit is about the long term future of the UK economy. We should be thinking about what sort of society we want to be living in for the remainder of the 21st century. The Green Party in particular should be campaigning for a society that is sustainable in the long term.
This is not just an issue of phasing out fossil fuels, to try to avoid the Armageddon of global warming. It is about whether we want to continue consuming the world's resources at the current rate; a rate not sustainable by two earths, not just the one we inhabit. We are constantly being told that we are consumers, but should we not be striving to become conservers?
The EU has and always will be an advocate for big business. The number one goal of the current EU trade commissioner is to expand international trade by taking the EU into TTIP.
Indeed it was written into her remit by the President of the EU commission himself. The biggest and most effective lobbyists in Brussels come from the multinationals. But most of all, the very essence of the EU is about economic growth, no matter what the cost.
This is why, despite the relative ease of doing so, the EU or any one of its member states have never taken effective measures to curb wholesale tax avoidance by multinationals. Indeed, some countries actually style themselves as tax avoidance facilitators, like Ireland as it struggled to get out of its debt crisis and Luxembourg (championed by a Prime Minister who was later to become the President of the EU Commission).
That is why the UK Chancellor's stated big ambition is to have the lowest corporation tax in the EU. It should be to build a sustainable country, with a priority of protecting and serving its citizens.
The EU cares little about the balance of trade between EU countries; its priority is the furtherance of trade for the EU as a whole. This is why we have the desperate economy of Greece co-existing with the massive wealth of Germany. It is also why the unsustainable trade deficit of the UK is entirely down to the imports from the rest of the EU being far more than our exports to the EU.
In the first quarter of 2016, the trade deficit of the UK with the EU reached £24bn (the equivalent of £96bn a year ). If the UK economy is to survive, then any responsible government must plug this trade gap, before the "kindness of strangers" runs out, as it did in Greece.
In 1957, the then prime minister Harold Macmillan ordered the first big post war economic re-appraisal of the UK economy and, after the shock of the Suez crisis, of the UK's role in the world. The conclusions were clear, a post imperial Britain had to have a trade surplus to survive. So Macmillan and his immediate successors focused on supporting British industry, to replace the trade lost as the empire disappeared.
This "export or die" support for British business continued until Thatcher and her acolytes (Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron, and Clegg) broke the post-Suez consensus around economic sustainability. Blinded by the pseudo-science of the neo-liberal economics sponsored by the multi-nationals, they allowed our domestic economy to stagnate.
Indeed, since Thatcher there has been little economic growth per capita. That means that what economic growth there has been was largely the result of an increased population due to net immigration and price inflation. (Between 2008 and 2014 the economy declined by 0.2% per individual officially resident in the UK).
What there has been is a steadily increasing trade deficit, as UK industries were either deliberately destroyed (like locomotive manufacture, when the Tories refused to buy any new trains for three years before they privatised the railways) or by their transfer to cheaper parts of the world, including other parts of Europe. Thus we had the unedifying sight of British workers (as in Phillips and Cadburys) training their successors before being put out of work.
With the UK part of the EU, economists thought on an EU level. It did not seem to matter that the UK had a massive trade deficit with the rest of the EU. But when the UK voted for Brexit, the economists suddenly had to view the UK as a stand-alone economy. This slap in the face with the reality of the UK's terrible trade deficit is what caused the drop in the pound, not the democratic decision of the British people to leave the EU.
The biggest challenge of Brexit is how to reduce this trade deficit and re-establish the UK as a sustainable economy. What we need is a healthy dose of Keynesian economics, with public and private investment in manufacturing and much needed public services. The Tory and pseudo-Tory government policies of laissez faire of the last thirty years have failed and is time for a UK Government to manage our economy once again, as even the arch-Tory Macmillan realised sixty years ago.
We need a Government that invests in our future, a sustainable future. This means doing away with tax breaks for oil producers and fracking and replacing them with investment in renewable energy, in home and business insulation and community energy schemes. It means public investment in our NHS, cancelling PFI contracts and stopping the leeching of money to private sector providers in the name of market economics.
It means cancelling the dodgy deals to build obsolete nuclear power stations with money supplied by a communist dictatorship and investing instead in reducing our energy consumption.
It means taxing multi-national businesses in the UK on their profits made in the UK and properly policing by HMRC to eliminate fake management, service and commodity charges charged by holding companies in off-shore tax havens.
It means using quantitative easing to invest in our country, instead of increasing the value of bonds held by the richest 5%.
The problem has always been that much of this direct Government involvement in developing UK industries directly contravenes EU directives. Even the purchase of local produce by local authorities has been shown to fall foul of EU competition rules.
But most of all we need to recognise that with 65 million "consumers" the UK is a massive single market on its own. Because every country in the rest of the EU exports far more into the UK than the UK exports into those countries, the UK market is far more valuable to them than the EU market is to the UK. As mentioned £24bn more in the first quarter of 2016 alone.
With Brexit we have two main opportunities, currently not even being discussed by this failed Tory administration nor indeed by the official opposition.
First to reduce our trade deficit by investing in our own economy to reduce and replace the goods and services purchased from the other countries in the EU.
Secondly, to actively engineer our economy away from a throw-away society towards a society based on providing the goods and services that people actually need, like renewable energy and good health and social care. In Sweden for instance, they are giving tax breaks to people who repair goods rather than throw them away.
It is no coincidence that we have not seen a sustainable economy since we abandoned Keynesian economics and replaced it with 'the world's dumbest idea': the economics of Milton Friedman. So I ask everyone who has the best interests of the UK at heart, please stop looking back to challenge Brexit and instead look forward to a resurgent UK investing in itself and its people once again.

Friday, 24 June 2016

A New Green Direction after #Brexit

As the Financial Secretary of Green-Leaves, I naturally applaud the decision of the British people to vote to Leave the EU.

It gives the Green Party an opportunity for a new more radical direction, developing on existing priorities for campaigning. In addition, Cameron's resignation, coupled with the police enquiries into Tory electoral fraud gives us an excellent opportunity to curtail this appalling Tory administration and call for a general election.

Those priorities, I believe, should be, as follows:

1. The UK having addressed the democratic deficit in the EU, our next priority should be to address the democratic deficit in the UK. We should call for immediate discussions on electoral reform to give the people of the UK a more representative voting system. We got this referendum because of internal Tory Party squabbles and a weak Prime Minister who promised the EU referendum in the clear expectation that he would not get a majority in the House of Commons in 2015 and not then have to deliver on that promise. Now literally hoisted on his own petard, the Green Party should take this opportunity to attack the electoral system that got him elected with the support of less than one quarter of the electorate and demand proportional representation.

2. Similarly we should renew our campaign for the abolition of the House of Lords and the creation of a new elected senate.

3. The Green Party in England & Wales should support the demands for a new independence referendum in Scotland and a referendum for a United Ireland.

4. One of my greatest criticisms of the position of the Green Party over Europe is that we seemed to have forgotten our basic message of replacing a pro-growth consumer society with a society wedded to conserving our environment. We have been told many times that if the world wishes to avoid exceeding the 2°C, then the wealthiest countries have to adopt a de-growth strategy for a limited period. We should return to our roots and actively campaign for a de-growth economic policy.

5. That would embrace localism in our procurement policies for schools, hospitals and other public institutions, like the military. Making it a virtue of buying local preferably organic food.

6. Step up our opposition to the creeping privatisation of the NHS, especially now that the Tories will no longer have the excuse of EU neo-liberal policies on procurement.

7. Given the new spirit of rebellion engendered in the EU by the UK's unprecedented rejection of the arguments put forward by international vested interests, I believe TTIP is now dead. Obama has already promised that the UK will be put to the "back of the queue" regarding a free trade agreement and we can carve out a unique position by opposing ALL UK free trade agreements.

8. Point out that leaving the EU does not mean that we have to leave the European Court of Human Rights, which is a separate and older institution. Indeed we can champion the Court in our opposition to Tory attempts to water down our rights.

9. Try to develop an electoral pact with the Corbyn wing of the Labour Party, to increase the possibility of a truly socialist and progressive UK Government, to reverse the Thatcherism and austerity favoured by all successor governments since Thatcher, both Labour and Tory.

In this way we can renew and envigorate the Green Party by following this more radical agenda.

A New Green Direction after #Brexit

As the Financial Secretary of Green-Leaves, I naturally applaud the decision of the British people to vote to Leave the EU.

It gives the Green Party an opportunity for a new more radical direction, developing on existing priorities for campaigning. In addition, Cameron's resignation, coupled with the police enquiries into Tory electoral fraud gives us an excellent opportunity to curtail this appalling Tory administration and call for a general election.

Those priorities, I believe, should be, as follows:

1. The UK having addressed the democratic deficit in the EU, our next priority should be to address the democratic deficit in the UK. We should call for immediate discussions on electoral reform to give the people of the UK a more representative voting system. We got this referendum because of internal Tory Party squabbles and a weak Prime Minister who promised the EU referendum in the clear expectation that he would not get a majority in the House of Commons in 2015 and not then have to deliver on that promise. Now literally hoisted on his own petard, the Green Party should take this opportunity to attack the electoral system that got him elected with the support of less than one quarter of the electorate and demand proportional representation.

2. Similarly we should renew our campaign for the abolition of the House of Lords and the creation of a new elected senate.

3. The Green Party in England & Wales should support the demands for a new independence referendum in Scotland and a referendum for a United Ireland.

4. One of my greatest criticisms of the position of the Green Party over Europe is that we seemed to have forgotten our basic message of replacing a pro-growth consumer society with a society wedded to conserving our environment. We have been told many times that if the world wishes to avoid exceeding the 2°C, then the wealthiest countries have to adopt a de-growth strategy for a limited period. We should return to our roots and actively campaign for a de-growth economic policy.

5. That would embrace localism in our procurement policies for schools, hospitals and other public institutions, like the military. Making it a virtue of buying local preferably organic food.

6. Step up our opposition to the creeping privatisation of the NHS, especially now that the Tories will no longer have the excuse of EU neo-liberal policies on procurement.

7. Given the new spirit of rebellion engendered in the EU by the UK's unprecedented rejection of the arguments put forward by international vested interests, I believe TTIP is now dead. Obama has already promised that the UK will be put to the "back of the queue" regarding a free trade agreement and we can carve out a unique position by opposing ALL UK free trade agreements.

8. Point out that leaving the EU does not mean that we have to leave the European Court of Human Rights, which is a separate and older institution. Indeed we can champion the Court in our opposition to Tory attempts to water down our rights.

9. Try to develop an electoral pact with the Corbyn wing of the Labour Party, to increase the possibility of a truly socialist and progressive UK Government, to reverse the Thatcherism and austerity favoured by all successor governments since Thatcher, both Labour and Tory.

In this way we can renew and envigorate the Green Party by following this more radical agenda.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

BBC Lying on UK News

THE BBC ARE LYING TO THE BRITISH PEOPLE ON THEIR NEWS BROADCASTS IN SUPPORT OF THE REMAIN CAMPAIGN. The BBC News at 10 last night (Monday 20th June 2016) gave the "Remain" propaganda message that imports from the rest of the EU were roughly the same as UK exports to the rest of the EU. THIS IS A BLATANT LIE!

They also gave the Remain statistic that only 6% of EU exports came to the UK. That is also a blatant lie.

THE BBC ARE LYING TO YOU IN THEIR "NEWS" BROADCASTS AND I WILL PROVE IT.

The balance of payments deficit with the rest of the EU in 2014 was £104 billion. In 2015 it was £106 billion. The balance of payments is made up of the balance of trade and then other payments out to the EU, such as dividends from assets sold to them by Tory privatisations etc., such as the railways, now mainly owned by other EU governments.

So in 2015, the total trade in goods and services showed exports from the UK to the EU (from the UK Office of National statistics) of £223 billion. Imports from the rest of the EU were £291 billion. So the net trade deficit (not including dividends etc) with the EU in 2015 was £68 billion (in 2014 it was £59 billion). That is over 30% more than the UK exports to the EU. Not the same as the BBC reported. 30% more.

According to Wikipedia, the last figures we have for EU exports to the rest of the world were $2259 billion (£1526 billion). But of those, £280 billion were UK exports to the rest of the world, so the remaining EU exported just £1246 billion. If we add the exports to the UK of £291 billion, that makes total remaining EU exports to UK and the rest of the world of £1537 billion.
The UK proportion (£291bn) of the total (£1537 bn) is 19% of all the exports from the rest of the EU, not 6% as reported by the BBC. The BBC are just regurgitating the Remain propaganda without checking their facts.

And remember this is a percentage of a much larger figure than the percentage of UK exports that go to the EU, so comparing these percentages as the BBC did is misleading.

The fact is that the rest of the EU exports far more to the UK than the UK exports to the rest of the EU.
Import Tariffs would be much more disadvantageous to the rest of the EU than to the UK.
By leaving the EU we could focus on boosting UK trade worldwide, including the EU, without any fear (falsely engineered by the BBC and their Remain friends) of punitive tariffs from the EU. The same threat was made to Norway when it had a referendum in 1994 and proved just as false.

WE WILL BE SAFER AND STRONGER IF WE LEAVE THE EU AND PUT THE UK FIRST!

PLEASE PASS ON THIS MESSAGE TO YOUR FRIENDS AND COMPLAIN TO THE BBC ABOUT THEIR BLATANTLY BIASED REPORTING. http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Fracking and the Technocrats

I live in North Yorkshire and I protested outside Northallerton County Hall against fracking. But I have also worked at County Hall and I knew in my heart that the supine North Yorkshire County Councillors would be led by the nose by the Technocrats (aka Council Officers) who recommended the destruction of our Green and pleasant land by fracking.

As former Cameron advisor, Steve Hilton has recently written, it is these Technocrats who rule this country and the EU. These Technocrats who hand down the rules and regulations who are "acting in the interests of the big businesses that have corruptly captured the levers of power in Brussels through their shameless lobbying and insider deal-making, enabling a gradual corporate takeover of our country."

These same Technocrats have now foisted fracking onto the people of North Yorkshire. I have no doubt they will be fought; there will be protests; there will be civil unrest. But to defeat the Technocrats, whether they work for North Yorkshire County Council, or the EU or the IMF or the Bank of England, we need to fight them on all fronts. That is why, I, a former Green Parliamentary Candidate, call on everyone to start this fight by voting to Leave the EU on 23rd June. Take this first step down the road to Independence and the ability to cry "Free at last, free at last"!

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Here is the Evidence that the UK WILL be better off after BREXIT

Over the last few weeks we have heard a cacophony of vested interests telling us that it was not in THEIR best interests for the UK to leave the EU. From the US President and US treasury, the IMF, the Bank of England and George Osbourne's minions, there has been an orchestrated message of dire warnings about perceived threats to the personal wealth of every man, woman and child in the UK.

But all of these warnings have been predicated on one hypothesis: that if the UK leave the EU, the UK's trade will reduce. This is not a fact, it is a forecast, a prediction, basically a guess. And lo and behold, what is the outcome of this hypothetical scenario? Why we all get poorer.

A reasonable hypothesis you might think, but is it? It is based on us losing, as we are repeated told, an export market of 500 million people. That, of course, is a lie. Nearly 66 million of that 500 million are in the UK market, so we are actually talking about are exports to a market of 430 million people. What the hypothetical models do not take account of is the dynamic between the UK market of 66 million and the other 430 million in the EU.

So let us look at that dynamic: something the EU does not do, because it is only concerned with the whole market, not with the individual members, and least of all individual people like you and me. That is why the EU forces poverty and unemployment on vast swathes of the EU, from Greece to Portugal, young people in particular are suffering from this emphasis on the EU market as a whole, not the wealth of individual countries.

When we joined the EU, in the days of Ted Heath and Harold Wilson, the most important UK national statistic was the Balance of Payments. The difference between what we, the UK, as a nation export in goods and services and what we import. Indeed for many of the post war years, as we struggled to pay off the biggest debts of any nation after WW2 (any nation that actually paid its debts that is), we had import controls, because as a nation, we decided that we could not afford imports.

You rarely hear of the balance of payments these days. Yes, it was mentioned by the Bank of England as the Financial Policy Committee (29/3/16) dutifully trotted out its carefully worded support for REMAIN and the interests of international bankers. But only as a footnote: it merely said it had "concerns" about the UK's balance of payments deficit(1).

Yes, deficit. Because ever since we joined the Common Market, we have had a deficit with the rest of the EU. And as the EU has got bigger and bigger, so too has our deficit with the rest of the EU.

So here's the rub. Here is the evidence that yes, we would be better off if we LEAVE the EU.

In the last three years alone (2013-2015), according to the UK Office of National Statistics(2) , we have had a balance of payments deficit with the rest of the world of £267 billion. Within that, our trade deficit with the rest of the EU has been a staggering £303 billion. Yes, we actually had a modest SURPLUS of trade with the rest of the world outside the EU, of £36 billion.

And that deficit with the rest of the EU is going up, from £89 billion in 2013 to £107 billion in 2015. If we REMAIN, and the status quo does not change, then over the next ten years, based on these figures, we will have a net deficit with the rest of the EU of over ONE TRILLION POUNDS (£1,000 billion).

So, how will we pay for this trillion pound spending spree? Well, the Bank of England told us. As a nation, there are only two ways to pay for this massive trade deficit. Either by flogging off our capital, or, by increasing our debt. Well, our national assets have gone to pay for the profligacy of the past. Margaret Thatcher started it by selling off our North Sea Oil too cheaply, such that last year whilst Shell paid Norway over $4billion, the UK actually paid Shell $123 million in tax rebates(3). Since then the railways, water, utilities and many other public and private assets have been sold and are now owned by overseas, particularly EU interests. The profits from which are, no doubt, squirreled away in Luxembourg tax avoidance schemes set up under the now EU Commission president, Jean Claude Juncker, when he was president of Luxembourg (free the "LuxLeaks" whistle blowers now under arrest in Luxembourg!)

So, as the BoE pointed out, the only way to pay for the £trillion pound balance of payments deficit with the EU expected over the next ten years is by debt. A debt that is frankly, unsustainable.

Yes, if the UK remain in the EU, within ten years the UK will be bankrupt.

So, what is the Brexit alternative? Well one alternative is to stop importing this stuff we don't need and start making ourselves the stuff we do need. We could stop importing quite so much and invest in our own economy instead; in steel, manufacturing, the NHS, local farming etc.. We can say good riddance to all these trade deals like TTIP whose primary purpose is to allow multi-nationals free rein to satisfy their greed for a privatised NHS, schools and other public works.

Another alternative is to stop worshiping consumerism and embrace conservation. We have the opportunity to be world leaders in sensible technology like renewable energy and home insulation.

Investing in the UK will cost us far less than the Trillion pounds the UK will have to find in the next ten years to feed our addiction to EU imports. That is why the world's vested interests are united in spending so much time and money on persuading us that our addiction to EU imports must continue, no matter what the cost to the British people. That Trillion pounds goes into the coffers of those same vested interests and further increases the servitude of debt into which every UK citizen is daily encouraged to fall.

The reality is that, after BREXIT, we will continue to trade with the EU, but on our terms, not theirs. The EU will still want its Scotch and other UK products, but more importantly, the EU cannot afford to lose all of that Trillion Pound bonanza it is expecting over the next ten years. The EU will be falling over itself to strike a trade deal with the UK, because it cannot afford to lose its largest export market. We just need to have faith in ourselves, in our country and have the courage to say NO to membership of the EU and stand on our own feet again.

References:
(1) www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Documents/news/2016/032.pdf point 11
(2)www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/balanceofpayments/bulletins/balanceofpayments/octtodecandannual2015 & previous periods
(3)http://www.standard.co.uk/business/nick-goodway-why-do-we-pay-shell-to-extract-our-oil-assets-a3228751.html