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introduce a windfall tax on banks

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Announcing a new initiative to restore justice to the banking and financial system

All the mainstream political parties in the UK are in accord in accepting the need for austerity in greater or lesser degrees, but rarely do they attribute blame where it is due: the outgoing coalition government is keen to punish the poor and disadvantaged by cutting the welfare budget though they even others still accept in principle that cuts in public spending are the way to get the country out of the mess not of its own making. Reparations from the banks is an alternative, £85 billion windfall and then use the  so called "Robin Hood tax" a 0.05% tax on financial transactions, supported by Oxfam and War on Want. It could bring in an additional £3billion per annum.

In stark contrast to the adoption of policies that punish the old, the poor and the disabled, the bankers who brought the world economy to the brink of catastrophe have effectively been rewarded with bailouts and quantitative easing (QE). In the UK hardly a banker has been prosecuted for irresponsible actions verging on the criminal.  The reputation of the British banking and financial services sector remains virtually untarnished as far as the politicians and financial journalists are concerned. Talk of breaking up the banks, separating investment and high street banking, imposing greater transparency and accountability, curtailing the huge bankers’ excessive bonuses and the whole bonus culture, have all been quietly set aside and it is almost ‘business as usual’ once more. This is an affront to our innate sense of justice and must be rectified; if public confidence in the political system is to be restored then politicians need to act against abuses such as occurred within the banking sector.  If members of the public or small businesses owed the finance sector money as a result of reckless spending, would the banks not want redress in full?

A fairer and more just option is progressive taxation, starting with our reasonable proposal which is a windfall tax on the banks and which forms the basis of the petition, a Magna Carta for 2015, or a new Magna Carta for the 21st Century.

Banks still do not operate in the interests of their customers or the wider community despite events and the vast subsidies from tax payers; they still operate in the interests of their shareholders and the wealthy few. Our measure will be one small step to redress an imbalance and to ensure that the banks pay for their recent misdemeanours. We are all paying the price for their recklessness; it is high time, that the banks were compelled to put something back too. 

Our petition is proportionate. We hope that you can support it. Let’s make a difference and begin to redress this imbalance so that public confidence can be restored in the financial and economic system. For this to be achieved, measures that introduce a modicum of justice are urgently required. Our petition is but the small start of a much longer process.  But we remain convinced that “a better world IS possible”.

Please sign the petition!


Magna Carta Petition 2015

Making the penalty fit the crime

The financial chaos of recent years was caused by reckless and unethical behaviour of financial institutions and individuals - all of whom have avoided prosecution for involvement in this activity. This despite facilitating if not conspiring to defraud public finances by tax avoidance and in some cases outright evasion. Many individuals have continued to profit despite their complicity in totally unethical and reckless behaviour.

Our elected representatives in charge of the important offices of state have failed abysmally in their first duty. To protect the wellbeing of the nation’s citizens, by their ineffective regulation, which has been exacerbated by a wanton failure to ensure that the perpetrators are made to compensate tax payers for their recklessness or at least negligence.

In this year of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the closest legal document that the country possesses as a founding written constitution, needs to be acknowledged and applied to ensure that fair and ethical behaviour becomes the norm in the financial sector. Magna Carta in 1215 introduced the highly relevant concept of the "proportionality principle" or making the punishment fit the crime.

While ordinary people diligently pay their taxes and contribute towards the maintenance of society; the wealthy, the upper echelons of business and those who exercise powers of state on the people’s behalf, conspire to flagrantly avoid making an equitable contribution to the society from whose existence they derive most benefit.

The banking sector in the UK since 2009 has actually received more state aid than any other industry (through the bail out). This should be accepted as utterly improper.

To atone for past and present misdemeanours, the banking sector should be sanctioned by parliamentary measures to ensure the penalty should fit the crime. A one-off 100% bonus tax should be imposed to meet the crime of plunging the majority of the population into a period of prolonged austerity and significant decline in living standards, which has even threatened the stability of the UK.

Action is urgently needed to recover the bonuses inappropriately paid out in the financial sector and to introduce legislative and a regulatory framework that ensures that business is required to conduct its affairs ethically in the future, in the full knowledge that individuals will be sanctioned if this is not done.

Any bankers’ bonuses paid since the 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Bros, (irrespective of the dates to which the bonuses relate to), were undertaken with the knowledge of the crisis in banking and the world economy and disregarding the basic tenets of societal and ethical behaviour that should underpin banking, business and government. It should be irrelevant whether a company or an individual is a British national only that it has traded in Britain and benefits from the traditional stability of British society. These financial resources should be paid directly to the British Government and disbursed fairly to the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for the sole benefit of UK citizens.

The retrospective nature of this proposed action though unusual, is not without reasonable analogy. If there is reckless negligence that has resulted in detriment it is a well-established principle that compensation should be payable. We, the people, want our money back.

Analogies are the prescription of Thalidomide and the use of asbestos in construction. It is undeniable that both were not illegal actions at the time that they were undertaken. That does not however lead the reasonable person to conclude that the victims of the consequences of their actions should not be compensated. The misdeeds in the financial sector are far clearer. It was known, certainly after the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros, that corporate and individual actions would result in detriment to many people and thus they effectively carried out acts of reckless negligence. They must therefore be corporately and personally liable and should not be allowed to profit from such unethical behaviour.

Such reparations should be a one off, a penalty for a breach that should not be repeated, in the future it should be recognised that equality under the law must be sacrosanct. Let the penalty fit the crime.

Parliament should show that it governs on behalf of all citizens, for the benefit of all the people of Britain, not just for the wealthy, the financially influential and the politically powerful. Fairness should be enshrined at the heart of government and in the law. It has the responsibility to govern, and through effective regulation to ensure that business operates ethically.

Therefore petition Parliament to insist that these legitimate concerns are acknowledged, debated and adequately addressed in legislation. Add your name and sign up to this petition to Westminster and the devolved administrations in the United Kingdom and make real Thomas Paine's vision that

 “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

Let's establish a New Magna Carta for the 21st Century.

Instrumental in this initiative and founding petitioners: David Morgan and Brian K Smith

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