Thursday, December 02, 2010

Goodbye, Top Shop

Sir Philip Green, big societies and small cliques.

What would the Sun or the Daily Mail say if the government appointed a benefit scrounger to the tune of £285m a year as the person in charge of deciding which bits of public spending need cutting?

And what message would it send if the same government axed thousands of jobs right at the core of the department in charge of weeding out bogus claimers and assorted freeloaders?

That's exactly what the Coalition government did when they invited Sir Philip Green, Britain's ninth richest person, to pull up a chair and sit with David Cameron, George Osborne and the other Coalition millionaires.

This is a man with an estimated fortune of £4.1bn and still notoriously avoiding tax because the law lets him. New Labour already rewarded him with a knighthood. Now the Coalition are asking him for advice. Presumably in line with the thousands of job cuts at HM Revenue and Customs - exactly the department which is supposed to deal with the army of millionaire scroungers.

Big Society? Small clique, more like.

For all the trite sneers that the current wave of protests are "pointless", "middle-class" or even "counterproductive", it's exactly this type of governmental arrogance that rubs many people the wrong way.

Look at David Cameron and George Osborne's gift to Vodafone.

Which spineless knave would not feel a hint of anger at the news that the same government lecturing the public that "we-re-all-in-this-together" is also sneakily writing off a corporate tax bill believed to be worth between £2.2bn and £6bn?

Which is why, when spontaneous group UK Uncut was set up in protest, their Vodaphone Shop actions attracted widespread sympathy even amongst people of no political affiliation.

Now UK Uncut are organising against Philip Green's empire.

Two days ago a number of people occupied the massive Oxford Circus branch of TopShop in London and more protests are planned for Saturday 4 December. They point out that £285m from Green's offshore account could pay for the new hiked up £9,000 fees for 32,000 students, or the salaries of 20,000 NHS nurses.

I normally don't believe in boycotts but, for what it's worth, now I'd rather be skinned alive that further contribute to Philip Green's ever growing fortunes and his display of class arrogance.

I am guilty of spending more money than I should have over the years at TopShop or TopMan. And let's face it. Lots of their clothes are actually poor quality. And shame on fools like me for falling for it.

TopMan may market themselves as ultratrendy or supercool, but they routinely whack £40 price tags on shirts or jumpers that are proper flimsy and/or rich in polyester, the type that Primark has at least the dignity to sell for a fiver.

And if that wasn't enough, watch the display of nasty arrogance when Sir Green was approached by Channel 4 about the the poor treatment and use of illegally low-paid workers along the chains of his empire.

Goodbye, TopShop.

Click here to find out more about The Big Society Revenue and Customs campaign.
Also on the subject: "The ultra rich could solve this financial crisis".


Jackart said...

"This is a man with an estimated fortune of £4.1bn and still notoriously avoiding tax because the law lets him."

So you agree that he pays his taxes according to the law? And your problem is that he doesn't volounteer to donate extra millions to the exchequer? Have I got the source of your indignation right?

"Look at David Cameron and George Osborne's gift to Vodafone."

Do the words "tax incidence" mean anything to you? That corporation tax can either be paid by 1) shareholders in lower returns, 2) workers in lower wages or 3) customers in higher prices. Empiricle research suggests the biggest losers from corporation tax are workers, followed by customers followed by shareholders. (return on equity being similar accross tax juristicions). So... given that information, you're expecting a business to pay over the legally required tax bill?

Why should they not take advantage of the law as Labour left it, with loads of loop holes? Or is it only a problem because there's a Conservative government?

This x is "not paying tax, waaa!" roulette is Pathetic, tribal, ignorant nonsense.

claude said...

Why do you keep clinging on to the flimsy assertions that "Labour did it" or "also Labour"? Two turds don't make a right! I am not an ideological fanatic. I'll leave the tribal blinkers to you.

Just in case it wasn't clear, one more time: this blog does NOT support Labour and it NEVER did. Clear?

The fact that the old New Labour establishment did FA to curb our ridiculously laxed rules that make tax avoidance so easy for the rich is no excuse.

And another thing. Why is it that whenever multimillionaire corporate arrogance is challenged, or a single word said against it, you always get a Tory fanatic or two sticking up for the same people who don't mind paying workers under the minimum wage or employing illegal workers or avoiding tax?

Would I, or any other low, middle or high earner be able to negotiate a tax bill discount the way Vodafone did with the government? Why is it so OK when a multi-billionaire does it? Is it the lure of the rich and powerful that does it for you?

It may be just about borderline legal in the UK. That doesn't mean the law shouldn't change. Look at what happened with Vodafone in India. The Indian government didn't let the slimy tax avoiders get away with it. Perhaps they have more balls than the British government.

"Empiricle research suggests the biggest losers from corporation tax are workers"

Which empirical research? What are you talking about? That from the man who said that the Euro was at the root of the Irish crash (words contradicted by your same party mate Kenneth Clarke)!

Empirical research actually says that more unequal societies make people unhappier (apart from the loaded few, of course, as well as their subordinates and vassals). That the more progressive and fair the tax system, the less unequal society as a whole.

There is a whole literature of statistical evidence proving that people are healthier (or have higher literacy scores) if they are in a more equal society than people in the same category of income, education or class in a less equal society. There is a large and consistent body of evidence on income inequality and crime/violence.

I could carry on, but I guess it's pointless.

Stan Moss said...

I don't recall the Tory ideologue being so glib during the MP expenses scandal. Most of the MPs that caused such outrage (from the Torygraph for starters) were actually technically within the rules.

Oh and btw, it is your good mate Mr Clegg who last September equated tax avoiders to benefit scroungers. You need to trim that friends list of yours.

Surely you will agree that in times of extreme austerity and cuts left right and centre, the government getting rid of 30,000 employees at H M Revenue & Customs is quite a dumb thing to do and a gift to big companies who already enjoying preferential treatment unlike the army of muggings here, include the masochists who stick up for the avoiders.

Anonymous said...

Those saying "no issue because it is avoidance and not evasion", are missing a huge and complex number of issues regarding moral standards.

There are millions of actions that some businesses do constantly which are legal but totally immoral. One of the classics is the opening, indebting and closing of Ltd companies.

This is done by shysters. They indebt the company by purchasing, on credit, many products and services, close the company (normally shafting many small businesses, and simply open another company and continue exactly the same trade debt free. Restaurants and small construction companies and manufacturers do this constantly.

Perfectly legal. Totally immoral.

No country can run solely on its laws. There must be community. Our country should not reward the markets and businesses that are totally immoral.

Paying so little salaries and then so little tax on such a large amount of money is... Immoral.

No, this shouldn't be left to the "the law will get him if he has broken it". Pressure to force some moral/ethical standard on the banks and businesses that are screwing this country is required.