I hope you have 25 minutes to spare to watch a new film by UK Uncut, entitled, “The Missing Billions,” which I’ve posted below. Since emerging in October 2010, the UK Uncut campaigners have protested against tax avoidance in the UK and have worked to raise awareness about cuts to public services. They have also undertaken — and encouraged others to undertake, on a kind of free franchise basis — countless actions involving theatrical occupations of corporate outlets, and are now, as they put it, “extending their actions into the courts.” See here for their legal action page — and how to donate to support their legal cases.
This is an important documentary, and a perfect follow-up to my article yesterday, RIP Karen Sherlock, Another Victim of the Tories’ Brutal, Heartless Disability Reforms, in which I not only mourned the death of disability campaigner Karen Sherlock, who was herself severely disabled, but also reiterated my sustained attack on the government’s cruelty and incompetence, with particular reference to the government’s assault on education, on the NHS, and on the unemployed and disabled.
The film includes interviews with disabled people, with others opposing the artificial age of austerity imposed on us, and also with financial experts and lawyers explaining the colossal extent of tax avoidance, and how we do not need to accept that the cost of bailing out the banks who caused the global economic crash of 2008 is being paid for through cuts, when it should be tackled by clamping down on tax evasion and tax avoidance.
As is explained in the film, £850 billion was used to bail out the banks, even though, according to some estimates, $11 trillion is hidden in offshore accounts — enough to tackle deficits without the savage and self-defeating austerity measures that are steadily destroying the fabric of life in the UK.
When UK Uncut began, its young activists were inspired to campaign because of the realisation that the communications giant Vodafone had negotiated a deal with the UK government, whereby its tax bill of £7 billion was conveniently reduced to £1.25 billion. To coincide with the release of “The Missing Billions,” UK Uncut are pursuing Goldman Sachs in court. As the Guardian explained on Wednesday, they have “won permission from the high courts to have a ‘sweetheart’ deal between HMRC [Revenue and Customs] and the banking giant Goldman Sachs judicially reviewed for its legality.”
In court, “Justice Peregrine Simon said the matter was ‘plainly in the public interest’ and that any judicial review of the deal which saw Goldman Sachs let off a £10m interest bill, would be separate to an anticipated National Audit Office investigation on maladministration and bad practice.”
I hope you have time to watch “The Missing Billions,” and that it proves useful. I have been watching these issues closely, but I found new angles in the film that I had not considered before. In closing, I’m posting below UK Uncut’s analysis of the governments lies, which I have found useful since the group first established its website, for its simplicity and logic:
“There is no alternative.”
We are told that the only way to reduce the deficit is to cut public services. This is certainly not the case. There are alternatives, but the government chooses to ignore them, highlighting the fact that the cuts are based on ideology, not necessity.
Either the tax avoided and evaded in a single year or the ongoing taxpayer subsidy to the banking industry could pay for all of the £81bn, four-year cuts programme.
“We are all in this together.”
Since the banking crisis:
David Cameron himself has said that the cuts will change Britain’s “whole way of life”. Every aspect of what was fought for by generations seems under threat — from selling off the forests, privatising health provision, closing the libraries and swimming pools, to scrapping rural bus routes. What Cameron doesn’t say is that the cuts will also disproportionately hit the poor and vulnerable, with cuts to housing benefit, disability living allowance, the childcare element of working tax credits, EMA, the Every Child a Reader programme, Sure Start and the Future Jobs Fund to name a few.
The facts speak for themselves; we are not all in this together, we are paying for the folly of reckless bankers whilst the rich profit.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
On Facebook, Pauline Kiernan wrote:
Thanks Andy. Sharing. Pauline x
Paul Astles wrote:
Cheers Andy, same here.
Thanks, Pauline and Paul. Good to hear from you. As with my post yesterday, I’m particularly concerned to keep raising awareness of the cruelty of this government when it comes to cutting all support for disabled people. It’s such savage, heartless behaviour, and yet far too many people don’t seem to care.
I’m also grateful to UK Uncut for doing so much to highlight tax evasion and tax avoidance, and for moving into legal challenges to the corporate criminals who mostly remain hidden while the government transfers all the blame for the global economic crisis onto those who did nothing to cause it in the first place.
Pauline Kiernan wrote:
You. Are. A. Star, Andy. Without your vigilance, where would our consciences be? Thank you. Pauline xxx
Thanks again, Pauline. I appreciate the support, but I know I’m just one of many venting our frustrations with this savage and incompetent government, trying to build up a body of resistance that will make a difference.
Pauline Kiernan wrote:
But you are still the star Andy!
You’re too kind, Pauline!
Brilliant film! the problem with the cuts that are having such a serious impact on the genuinely disabled it that until people are affected in some way themselves they simply do not understand or even care. The general public and the D.W.P need educating that not all disabilities are visible and not all purely physically based and also reminding that anybody can become disabled at any time by accident an attack or illness. Very few in proportion are now actually born disabled.
Thanks, Sue. Very good points. I do, however, worry about how to get through to people when these dreadful butchers masquerading as a government and their supporters in the rabid tabloid press control so much of the narrative. Far too many people have a lack of curiosity, and, alarmingly, a tendency towards seeking out scapegoats who are actually less fortunate than themselves, who become the object of their frustrations and hatred. Before the Tories seized power and adopted an immigration policy that must have cheered up the BNP, the powerless object of people’s unquestioning hatred was immigrants; now it’s the disabled and/or anyone unfortunate enough not to have a job.
I will continue to play whatever part I can in trying to raise awareness that disabled people need our support, and that anyone might have the misfortune to become disabled, but there need to be many more voices pointing out that empathy and compassion are amongst the most admirable human traits.
I couldn’t agree with you more l have been fighting the D.W.P for over 3yrs now on D.L.A on behalf of my husband who has brain damage, epilepsy organic mental health issues is also registered partially sighted and has oesto- arthritis in his spine and both knees. At first they said he was entitled to nothing then the tribunal awarded lower rates only which they now plan to abolish. We have applied again as his health is deteriorating and are also trying to go to the upper tribunal. I can not go into full details but he has been treated most appallingly by the D.W.P and has also suffered abuse from the general public as well.
I’m very sorry to hear about your husband’s suffering, Sue. Do let me know if I can ever be of any assistance. It is absolutely disgraceful that, in a country run by millionaires, which is still one of the biggest economies in the world, the most vulnerable people are being treated with contempt.
Thank you Andy may l also add my husbands disabilities are as a result of head injuries from a road traffic accident which could happen to anybody. He had always worked after leaving school did a manual job played sports and was a drummer in a band. He was re-deployed after the accident and still works in a office job with specially adapted equipment. The fact that he manages to work with the assistance of access to work for his equipment and taxi as he is unable to use public transport is viewed by the D.W.P as prove that he can cope ok. He has a very complex prescription for his spectacles and also uses a white stick these specs are expensive plus he requires a spare pair as these get broken and damaged with his fits. His teeth also get broken and damaged as well this is also expensive. D.L.A was brought in to help with these costs and to assist disabled people to get around. The D.W.P are in my opinion discriminating against certain disabilities against others. They should to be fair stop it for all claims rather than for the ones that they do not understand or even seen to wish to known about.
That’s very sad, Sue, and your husband’s story is just one of many thousands – or tens of thousands – of stories of real people’s lives, and real people’s suffering, through no fault of their own, that are being callously disregarded by this government.
Visitors to this site may wish to look at the report by the “We Are Spartacus” campaign – http://wearespartacus.org.uk/ – on the wretched failures and damaging omissions in the government’s replacement of DLA (Disability Living Allowance) with PIP (Personal Independence Payments), which was submitted in April, based on detailed real-life evidence provided by disabled people themselves: http://wearespartacus.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/wearespartacus-pip-submission-30-4-12.pdf
And also the newly published report, demonstrating the disastrous effect on the motor industry of a projected “27% reduction in the number of working age disabled people eligible to access the Motability scheme” under PIP. That report, Reversing from Recovery, which was published last week, is here: http://wearespartacus.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Reversing-from-Recovery-Full-Report.pdf
It show that by reducing access to the Motability scheme, the Government’s plans will create a domino effect, including the loss of:
- More than 30,000 new car sales each year
- 3,583 jobs (from 21,080 jobs to 17,497 jobs)
- £342 million contribution to GDP (from around £2 billion to £1.67 billion)
- £79 million in tax receipts
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