On December 8th there were 45 demonstrations at Starbucks cafés all over the UK organized by the group UK Uncut. They were protesting at the way that Starbucks avoids paying corporation tax and blaming this for the fact that all over the country services such as refuges for victims of domestic violence are been closed down.
Starbucks responded by offering to pay £20 million in tax that it doesn't actually owe, because nothing they are doing is illegal. Will this make any difference at all to the cuts? Of course not. The EU has just wished us Happy Christmas by slapping another demand for an extra £1 billion per annum on our contributions to its budget.
The piddling little £20 million from Starbucks will vanish into the gaping black hole of EU extravagance and nobody will notice any difference.
Very few of the people who protest at tax avoidance even understand the difference between avoidance (legal) and evasion. They are simply not aware of the fact that the big multi-national corporations such as Vodaphone and Google are just taking advantage of EU legislation. They are entitled to register and operate in any European country and pay their corporation tax in the one with the lowest rates (which may be nil). What would happen if consumers here used people power to urge Vodaphone to pay more tax? They could organize a boycott of buying Vodaphone handsets. Probably it would just close down its manufacturing, making thousands of people in the UK redundant, and set up in China, where there is no corporation tax whatsoever. They would find a massive market for their products in China, India and the oil-rich Middle-Eastern countries.
So is this a solution to our problems with cuts? No way. Actually I have been boycotting Starbucks for a long time, firstly because their coffee is ridiculously over-priced and I know places where you can get takeaway coffee for £1. Secondly I think it is impertinent for a string of mere cafés to tell us what our definition of marriage ought to be. If they want to put froth in their coffee it is one thing, but I don't want to fund their frothy and specious arguments about politics. Just making lattes does not mean you are a legal expert.
The people who demonstrated against Starbucks think that getting more tax into the Inland Revenue will solve our problems. It won't. I think that looking at where the money is going is the first step and generating more jobs is the next. It might well be more helpful to abolish business taxes and thus encourage smaller enterprises to expand than to chase the odd £20 million here or there. But then I am one of those eccentrics who STILL don't realize that the entire EU is a fiction invented by the Daily Mail...