Saturday, 22 June 2013

What the G8 was really about



Last week the leaders of the G8 countries met at the Lough Erne Golf Resort near Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

Ironically, while these champions of the capitalist economic system discussed how to look as if they were concerned about the poor and hungry of the world, while actually ensuring the rich continue to get richer, the location of their meeting is for sale, with an asking price of £10m, which is less than half what it cost to create in 2007. The resort went bankrupt in 2011.

The cost to UK taxpayers of keeping safe the group of ‘world leaders’ will run to around £70m, which the Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers MP, described as “money well spent”.

Ms Villiers, MP for that well known Irish constituency of Chipping Barnet (it’s in Greater London), knows what she is talking about when it comes to spending public money. The Tory MP owns a £345,000 home in fashionable Kennington, for which she charged the public purse £18,181 in parliamentary expenses during the year 2007/2008. That was the last financial year before MPs expenses-claims were exposed by a whistle-blower. Ms Villiers also owns a house in her constituency, which she bought for £296,000 in 2004. Her constituency home is just 45 minutes from Westminster by tube, but the woman who knows what is “money well spent” believes it is appropriate for taxpayers to fork-out for her second-home, which is nearer the centre of London.

The hundreds of workers who lost their jobs when the Lough Erne Golf Resort went bankrupt might consider a better use of just some of the £70m spent protecting David Cameron and Barak Obama would have been to create employment in Northern Ireland, the province for which Ms Villiers has UK parliamentary responsibility.

The G8 comprises the UK, USA, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan, France and Russia: meetings discuss issues put on the agenda by the host nation and last week the UK Government highlighted tax avoidance and the ongoing conflict in Syria.

The UK wants to arm Syrian rebels, but could not persuade the other G8 members to support such a move. Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out that providing arms to anti-government rebels in Syria would be the equivalent of giving guns to radical groups that share the views of the mentally deranged men who brutally murdered British soldier Lee Rigby outside Woolwich barracks just a few weeks ago. The compromise position was for the G8 to issue a statement calling for peace in Syria. Well worth £70m?

On tax avoidance, the ‘world leaders’ asked so-called tax havens to clampdown on companies who bank ‘off-shore’, thereby avoiding paying their fair share of taxes in countries where profits are actually made. The ‘tax havens’ were said to have agreed such a clampdown, but as ‘off-shore’ banking services provide most of their income, it isn’t going to happen. Reporting on the issue, the BBC said sources were “warning ministers had not consulted the UK business community, which may reject the plan because it would prevent them saving as much corporation tax as they do at present”. Honestly, you couldn’t make it up.

Some of the most active ‘tax havens’ benefit hugely from the British business community dodging corporation tax by ‘off-shoring’ their accounts and profits, places such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Gibraltar, Anguilla, Turks & Caicos – all are British Overseas territories – while the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man also get in on the lucrative act.

Despite the global collapse of the corrupt capitalist system, which has plunged millions of citizens of G8 countries into poverty, the leaders of the UK, America, Germany, Italy, Canada, France, Japan and Russia were meeting to ensure there is no challenge to their concept of world order. The G8 is all about retaining power in the hands of global capitalists, allowing a super-wealthy elite to get even richer as the poor get poorer.

In the UK, while the Tory-led Government spent £70m of our money on protecting a group of politicians, there are now 3.5-million children living in poverty. That’s 27-percent of children, or more than one-in-four. According to the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), current UK Government policies will see child poverty continue to rise, with an expected 600,000 more children living in poverty by 2015/16. CPAG predicts that by 2020, just seven years away, there will be 4.7-million children living in poverty in the UK.

Against those figures, Barclays Wealth Management (part of Barclays Bank) has revealed there are now 619,000 millionaires in the UK, which is up from 528,000 in 2008, the year capitalism collapsed and banks had to be bailed-out using our money. Barclays also says there are an increasing number of multi-millionaires, with 86,000 UK residents having personal wealth of more than £5m. That figure is projected to significantly increase by 2020, just as the number for children living in poverty reaches 4.7-million.

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