After the horrendous events in Pakistan and falling living standards for here at home, you could be forgiven for not feeling very ‘jolly’ this Christmas.
Many people in the UK will be working for longer hours this Christmas than ever before, on lower pay and with less of a social safety net to rely on. Many small businesses, too, are struggling to keep their heads above water. All this while the big giants like Amazon look set to make record profits this Christmas.
But there’s real reason to be optimistic as we look towards the New Year. First, we have a potential future Prime Minister, Ed Miliband, who is determined to take on vested interests.
And second, that determination to take on the ‘big boys’ and stop the rip-off economy is now strong across Europe as well. This is particularly the case when it comes to aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion, with the ‘Luxleaks’ scandal having generated public anger which even right-wing politicians could not ignore.
Last week, we saw the EU’s civil service – the European Commission – prioritise the fight against tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance in its Work Programme for 2015, committing to “move to a system on the basis of which the country where profits are generated is also the country of taxation”.
This was followed by European heads of government also agreeing last week that “there is an urgent need to advance efforts in the fight against tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning, both at the global and EU levels”.
This showed that the message many of us had been stating for a long time was getting through: we need action now against tax fiddling.
So what comes next? We have to seize the initiative to get new laws into place, to plug the gap which means that European governments lose nearly £800bn a year because of tax fiddling.
Think of the change that money could make to our communities if it was invested in schools, hospitals and other public services! And think how much fairer it would be if our small and medium-sized businesses could compete with transnational corporations on a level playing field, not one which only favours the big boys who can shift profits around to the country with the lowest tax rate.
I am delighted to have been appointed to lead the legislative response to tax fiddling for my political group – the Socialists and Democrats. I am determined to prove that politics really can change things; that we can take on vested interests in 2015 – and win.