Miliband: I’ll go after tax dodgers

Published: Saturday 14th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Ed Miliband is to accuse David Cameron of “turning a blind eye” to tax avoidance by the rich and powerful.

The Labour leader will insist he would govern “without fear or favour” and never “back down” on tackling dodging.

The comments, in a speech to the Welsh Labour conference in Swansea, come after a week of bitter political wrangling on the issue. Mr Miliband will highlight his clashes with Boots boss Stefano Pessina and Tory donor Lord Fink as a sign of his intent.

“Two weeks ago, the British people were being told how to vote by a billionaire who doesn’t even pay tax in the United Kingdom and has moved the HQ of his company, Boots, from Nottingham to Switzerland,” he will say.

“Last weekend I promised the next Labour government would tackle the scourge of tax avoidance, setting a six-month deadline for tax havens operating in UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to open up their books or face being blacklisted.

“This week, there were a series of revelations over industrial scale tax avoidance at HSBC in Switzerland which this government had known about even when it appointed its chairman as a trade minister.

“And then just on Thursday the man appointed to be Treasurer of the Conservative Party first threatened to sue me for saying he was a tax avoider then announced that ‘everyone is a tax avoider’ and he was just guilty of ‘vanilla tax avoidance’.

“As always, this becomes a story of Westminster games: who’s up, who’s down, political knockabout. But in fact, this isn’t really about Lord Fink, Stefano Pessina, David Cameron or me. It is about something bigger and deeper about our economy, our society and kind of country we want to live in.”

He adds: “Any civilised country is built on the idea of the common good must have common rules, shared and respected by all its citizens. But in Britain today we risk having one rule for the rich and powerful and another for everybody else.

“When a few people are able to avoid paying their fair share, it threatens the fabric of the society on which we depend. And it is a deeply divisive injustice for the vast majority of British people and British businesses who pay their taxes.”

Mr Miliband will say everyone uses the same roads and railways and is protected by our armed forces.

“The businesses that create the wealth of our country rely on the schools and universities that educate our young people,” he says. “We really are ‘all in this together’. This is the basis of One Nation and civilised society.

Mr Miliband will say the Government has “turned a blind eye” to tax avoidance “because it thinks that so a long as a few at the top do well, the country succeeds”.

“It thinks that wealth and power fence people off from responsibility. It thinks the rules only apply to everybody else. But we will act because we have a different vision of how our country succeeds,” he will say.

“I believe we build the success of a country through the success of working people. It doesn’t matter how much I get attacked for this, I’m not backing down. I will stand up to all those who stand in the way of success for working families.

“A Labour government led by me will ensure that the same rules apply to everyone, not matter how rich or how powerful they are.”

Published: Saturday 14th February 2015 by The News Editor

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