Though the financial transactions tax (FTT) has long been on the political radar, it may be about to shoot up the news agenda once again.
European ministers are set to meet on 22 June to debate a raft of issues, including, it seems likely, the FTT.
With a vocal advocate in the shape of President Hollande having recently come into office, FTT remains at the forefront of the minds of European leaders.
Our own prime minister’s vehement opposition to the very principle of the FTT (with his speaking occasionally of a global deal but doing little to drive forward any such initiative) is but one issue where he is out of step with much of the continent.
Whilst parliamentarians (including myself) in this country have expressed approval for the FTT through various means, the wider Labour Party will debate the issue in some depth in the coming days.
Amongst many interesting documents sent to the party’s National Policy Forum which meets at the end of this week is a submission from the Robin Hood Tax coalition which advocates Labour adopting the FTT as party policy.
The FTT – which rolls out the present £3bn raised through the stamp duty on share transactions to further taxes on bonds and derivatives – has the potential to raise £20bn per annum in the UK: over six times the size of the Green Investment Bank, ten times the amount the government’s proposed pension fund investment platform will raise, and twelve times the revenue often linked to that flagship Lib Dem policy (at least before the last election), the mansion tax.
Labour’s five point plan for growth has offered a much needed positive counterbalance to the coalition’s negative message of austerity. With the government’s slashing of public spending leading to economic stagnation, Ed Balls, Rachel Reeves and others are to be congratulated for their sterling work in questioning the downward spiral of Osborne’s economics.
The green shoots of recovery set in motion by the last Labour budget of March 2010 have been choked by the coalition’s anti-growth approach, and Labour has held them to account. But there is more work to be done.
Though it accomplished historic achievements in several areas, the last government could, it has been argued, have done more to clamp down on financial speculation. Labour must learn the lessons here.