From the TUC

Robin Hood round-up

05 Nov 2011, by in International

There was so much going on about the Financial Transactions Tax at the G20 in Cannes last week, that we couldn’t keep up! Here’s a summary of the main web and media hits, apart from the series of articles by our own Ben Moxham, guest posts from Oxfam’s Max Lawson, and from COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on the Touchstone blog. (Bro Vavi’s views were reported in the South African media, eg Business Report). There is a summary of the results by Sarah Anderson on the IPS blogsite, but expect more reactions through the weekend, before we start campaigning ahead of the next EU Finance Ministers meeting, which is coming soon…

Campaigning started in earnest on Wednesday, when the Robin Hood Tax campaign went to Westminster to send PM David Cameron off to Cannes with news that 80,000 people in the UK had signed a petition over the weekend calling for the G20 to support a Robin Hood Tax: pictures here, and we also released the news that 70 national organisations had written to the PM with the same message. At the same time, our sister campaign in Germany was presenting similar petitions to German finance minister Schauble with 232,000 signatures. And in Paris, an NGO delegation travelled to the Elysee Palace to call on G20 chair and French President Nicholas Sarkozy to push the same message, followed by a delegation of global trade union leaders who argued the same way.

Well-known actor Bill Nighy played a blinder all week, bringing glitz and straight-talking to the summit of world leaders. He wrote this blog in the Huffington Post; and finally, he scattered star-dust on the trade union media stunt at Cannes, trailed by the AFLCIO whose National Nurses Union have been central to the campaign. (The Guardian’s G20 in pictures shows Bill and the nurses at no 9, but there are other Robin Hood pictures at 3 and 10). He was on the BBC, took on the Tax Payers Alliance on Channel 4 and did a big interview with Larry Elliott in the Guardian.

Meanwhile, almost as popular was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who outraged some financiers by actually taking a moral position on the practices of the financial sector (one letter in the Financial Times accused him of only having short-term, specific policies, and no strategic moral agenda. Er, there’s this book …) His article (£) was reported (£) in the FT along with the Daily Telegraph and others, and the subject of a Steve Bell cartoon. According to Reuters, Mr Cameron acknowledged there was “widespread support” for the principles behind the Robin Hood tax but that Britain would only back it if it was adopted worldwide.

In  the US, lawmakers Sen Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep Peter DeFazio of Oregon reintroduced a bill, backed by the AFLCIO, calling for an FTT, which is still generally known as a Financial Speculation Tax, but is increasingly becoming known as the Robin Hood Tax. A joint trade union and Occupy Wall Street protest was held outside the Treasury in Washington DC on Thursday and there were further protests around the US. And veteran US consumer advocate turned independent Presidential candidate Ralph Nader wrote (£) about his support for an FTT in the Wall Street Journal. The AFLCIO are offering a free “I am the 99%” bumper sticker for people who call their Senators to back the tax. 

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Van Jones, President of and author of NY Times bestseller, “The Green-Collar Economy”, wrote on the Huffington Post, and so did Jeffrey Sachs and Sarah Anderson. Indian think tank director Kavaljit Singh of Madhyam, New Delhi wrote about FTTs from an Indian perspective on the GDAE Triple Crisis blog, following up his comments on the outcome of the Finance Ministers meeting in October, which he said threw doubt on the capacity for Brazil, India and South Africa to work together on G20 matters.

And subsequently, the Robin Hood Tax was mentioned on Radio 4 throughout Friday night – first on the News Quiz and then on Any Questions! Fame at last. Phew, it was a long week!