Cable joins Robin Hood’s merry men
Today, senior Liberal Democrat Minister Vince Cable went beyond Government policy in backing the Robin Hood Tax to crack down on short-termism. He told a select committee:
“I have got no objection to the… well, I would put it more positively – I think there is a case if you are trying to change behaviour from using a market instrument of that kind to make it happen.
“I think there is a case and I’m in some ways quite disposed to it.”
The immediate slap down from anonymous Treasury sources – they said he wasn’t responsible for tax policy – shows how important Vince’s statement is. As Business Secretary, Cable is ideally placed to see the damage done to the real economy by the high frequency trading and speculation that dominates the finance sector.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“Most European governments – apart from our own – can see the value in a Robin Hood tax on the banks’ financial transactions and a cap on the sky-high bonuses they’ve been awarding their senior staff.
“We welcome the Business Secretary’s acknowledgement that there is a case for a financial transactions tax and hope that some of his more sceptical colleagues may soon realise its worth too.
“The banks helped make the mess we’re in, yet it’s ordinary families who are paying the price. A tax on the banks would raise much-needed revenue for the Exchequer and hopefully persuade ministers that the time has come to put austerity economics back in its box.”
Vince was also backed by Simon Chouffot, spokesman for the Robin Hood Tax campaign, which represents organisations including Barnardo’s, Oxfam and Friends of the Earth as well as the TUC, who said:
“It’s good news that Vince Cable has broken ranks with his Cabinet colleagues over the Robin Hood Tax.
“As Business Secretary, he should know better than most that defending the City fat cats is bad for Britain and bad for business. The banks are protecting the status quo of gambling and bonuses at the expense of investment in jobs and growth.
“The Government should drop its ideological opposition to a tax most voters back, and make sure Britain gets its fair share of the European FTT to help protect public services and rebuild our economy.”
A statement like this from a senior Liberal Democrat politician – in line with Labour Leader Ed Miliband’s call for responsible capitalism – adds to the tension in the coalition. In most European countries, the Robin Hood Tax is supported across the left and the centre-right, and that could spread to Britain, leaving the City-backing Conservatives isolated again.