Tax Dodging

I have received a number of messages in the last few days from electors expressing concern about the latest tax scandals involving HSBC. Like all my correspondents I find these revelations shocking and, as a Green Party Parliamentary candidate, I pledge to do everything I can to highlight that tax avoidance is wrong, cheating us all, and demand that the new Government in May takes effective action to put a stop to it

In the wake of the HSBC, Swiss Leaks and LuxLeaks tax avoidance scandals, the Green Party has pledged to introduce a Tax Dodging Bill in the first 100 days after the election. The campaign for such a Bill is being widely supported by a network of NGOs, cooperatives, faith groups, MPs and Unions. During the election campaign, all Green Party candidates will attempt to get the other candidates to pledge to support such a measure, or explain to their electors why they don’t find tax avoidance wrong.

The Green Party has long championed firm action on tax avoidance as an alternative to austerity and fully back the Bill which calls for new rules to make the UK tax regime more transparent and tougher on tax dodging. Green Party policy is to crack down heavily on tax havens and other methods of tax evasion and avoidance, and press for a transparent country-by-country reporting so that company profits can be located and taxed.

Green Party finance speaker, Molly Scott Cato MEP, who is a member of the European Parliament’s tax working group, said:

“In the wake of repeated tax avoidance scandals, it is now all the more vital that we put in place

legislation to ensure corporations and wealthy individuals pay the taxes that treasuries need to invest in public services and infrastructure. Greens have been pushing hard in the European Parliament for a full inquiry into the Lux Leaks scandal but unfortunately, despite the rhetoric from both Tories and Labour on the issue, they have refused to back such an inquiry.”

Four years ago, in 2011 Green MP Caroline Lucas launched the Tax and Financial Transparency Bill in the House of Commons. She exposed the fact that HMRC was failing to prevent serious tax evasion, totaling £billion’s of lost tax each year. Despite two attempts at getting the Bill passed, it failed to gain enough Parliamentary support.

Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, has said “Tax avoidance has cost this country tens of billions of pounds over the course of this Parliament, at a time when public services are being slashed. If the Government’s political priorities had been clamping down on tax avoidance, rather than dismantling our welfare state and public services, then we’d be in a far fairer, more humane, and more economically stable Britain. We need new laws to make the UK tax regime tougher on those who wish to avoid contributing to our society.”

This Coalition Government is telling us that Austerity is necessary because the country can not afford a social welfare programme to help the most needy, or a health and education service that fairly serves all. If the Government took the necessary measures to collect the tax that is legally due to it, taxes that have been agreed by our democratically elected parliament, then I believe that there would be no case for the failed policies of Austerity. Figures from the Tax Justice Network show that each year the Treasury looses £70 Billion to the tax dodgers. Figures from the last budget state that the cuts to Governmental departmental spending since 2010 has been £25 billion. The pain, suffering and damage to the economy caused by those cuts was unnecessary and caused by the Government’s failure to collect what is due to it.

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Housing development and the Greenbelt

Everyone needs a home. – somewhere they feel safe and can call their own. The Green Party sees this as a fundamental right of every citizen of this country: to have somewhere safe to live, affordable, warm and secure.
We live on a small island where land is limited. But demand for houses is rising, this is because our population continues to rise and also because traditional households are splitting up, there are a growing number of single person households. As a result there is more pressure to build on greenfield sites and those that once would have been uneconomic, or left for wildlife and recreation. But concreting over the countryside is not the solution and will deprive all of us of our precious open spaces and other species of their habitats.
There is a housing crisis and somehow the government has sold us the idea that the big developers and the multinational building companies will solve it, if we just leave them to get on with it. This is nonsense. These companies exist primarily to create profits for their shareholders and executives. Consider the following:

• Developers make more profit from building large houses in luxury developments.
• Building on greenfield sites is cheaper.
• Developers don’t need to be concerned with whether there are good transport links to work, shop and leisure from their new homes.
• Making new homes energy-efficient reduces developers’ profits.

Developers can’t be blamed for doing what they do, they build houses to make profit, but they alone can’t solve the housing crisis. Local Authorities are now instructed by central Government how many homes they have to provide, which puts even more pressure on their finances and makes a nonsense of their planning.
The Green Party believes that decisions and control over housing supply and development belongs in the hands of the Local Authority having the responsibility of discovering what the community needs. New housing should be planned for on the basis of independent housing needs surveys; commercial house builders and their representatives should not be involved in the process of identifying potential sites or assessing housing needs on behalf of the local community. Planning laws should be there for all of us, not just the developers – they should be there to allow Local Authorities to make projections about the services they need to provide based on the needs of people. They should be there to protect our greenbelt and open spaces.
Are there enough homes for our current population? No. What is the solution? The Green Party would start with the many thousands of properties standing empty up and down the country. There are 1,000 in Amber Valley alone. Bringing back into use such empty properties should be a priority.
The Green Party believes that the responsibility for social and affordable housing should be returned to Local Authorities, who are best placed to understand the needs of their communities. If house building was under the control of the Local Authority it is more likely that local trades people would be used. The wealth generated would then circulate in the local economy rather than being sucked up by big corporation shareholders and executives.
We need well constructed, insulated and energy efficient homes, fitting into their communities, where needed and when needed. We need affordable homes in which people can feel safe and secure and in communities in which they can take pride. We don’t need more big executive estates on greenfield sites.

John Devine

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Lets stop the abuse in the election campaign

Hello

This is a brief post on an issue that I really wish I didn’t have to address but feel I must.

As many will be aware Kimberley Town Council have over the past 4 years lurched from one controversy to another. Nine of the 15   elected councillors in 2011 have resigned over the past 4 years plus co-opted councillors  leaving Labour as the only political party represented on the council.

Last year Cllr Andy Cooper was embroiled in a controversy over his use of ‘Eva Braun’ when referring to German born Green party Cllr Kat Boettge. He was told to apologise by Broxtowe Labour Grouping lead Milan Radulovic and attend training.

Kat and I resigned from the council after receiving little by way of financial accounting for the council (despite even submitting a freedom of information request!) and when we did receive  some information,  by the admission of the council chair himself it was not fit for purpose.

More recently Kat has rejoined the council and has been active in opposing the plans to transform the cemetery chapel  to a social hub with a kitchen installed in the ‘alter’ area and the pews removed. The campaign to save the chapel has gained over 50o signatures via a petition and this was presented By Kat last week to the council.

The petition was presented  to the council and despite having support of 500 local people not one Kimberley councillor supported Kat in her bid to either scrap the plans for the chapel or at least wait until we hear if the building has been listed or not. The council plan to go ahead with spending tens of thousands of pounds on a plan that has little community support just 3 months before an election after debating the issue for years! Would the sensible option not be at this stage as we are so close to an election to allow the electorate to either endorse the plans at the election in May by re-electing the current council or to require a change of plan by electing an alternative council ?

During the meeting Kat was subjected to constant interruptions and poor behaviour despite another Councillor being allowed to make a nine page speech opposing her proposal.

Since the meeting Kimberley town councillors including  those already having had to apologise previously to Kat have indulged in email and social media attacks. This is not the way for councillors elected or co-opted to conduct themselves. We are in an election campaign both nationally and locally and tensions are running high and candidates are passionate but please lets act with decorum and understanding.

The criticism that Kat has received has also touched on the current situation regarding Borough councillor for Kimberley Richard Robinson. One town councillor and Labour member described the situation as a ‘witch hunt’.

I would like to make clear my stance on the issue, Richard is someone I have known for a number of years and has been a hard working councillor in that time. However his recent condoning and encouraging of the use of aliases on social media to promote the Kimberley tram extension was a grave error of judgement. I do believe that he should stand down whilst the investigation into the situation is held . He can then concentrate on his campaign for May and if re-elected will have the endorsement of his electorate. Politicians like everyone can make mistakes but its the way they conduct themselves once the mistake has been made that is important. This isn’t a witch-hunt it is simply an investigation into a councillors actions which councillors sign up to when they are elected.

The behaviour of Labour councillors recently with abusive some may say racist language, use of expletives to constituents and communications that are neither professional or in any way polite are not the way we should be conducting local politics.

We are in an election campaign but I call on all candidates to act with dignity and not indulge in inappropriate language or communications of any kind.

David Kirwan

Green Party Prospective Parliamentary candidate – Broxtowe

@davegaz    david.kirwan@greenparty.org.uk

07454 771271

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For Fox sake enforce the hunting act

It was a battle hard fought but hunting wild animals with dogs for sport was eventually banned in England and Wales in 2004. This is a fantastic achievement. However, what a lot of people perhaps don’t realise is that despite this ban, hunts continue more popular than ever. We may have won the battle, but the war is far from over.

Hunting foxes, hares, deer, mink and other wild mammals with packs of dogs was banned simply because the vast majority of people in Britain believe it is wrong to set animals against animals for sport– that’s why so many lobbied their MPs for a ban. However, a small group of people believe they are above the law and they don’t care one jot about their fellow inhabitants’ opinions and insist in continuing with the horrific, outdated and sickeningly cruel practice of traditional hunting. Two, sometimes three times a week they invade our beautiful countryside with their half starved hounds and scare foxes and hares from cover and chase them to their death. Hounds have been bred to have a slower speed than foxes but greater stamina because these people ‘enjoy the chase’. Utterly exhausted, cornered and panic stricken the fox is finally finished off by up to 50 yelping dogs ripping him apart. The alternative outcomes are a lingering death from starvation due to sheer exhaustion or a fight to the end pitted against terriers sent down the sett the beleaguered fox has sought refuge in.

Is there a place for this barbarity in society today?

Of course there isn’t and polls show that as many as 80% of Brits support the fox hunting ban. But the Tories under David Cameron, a former fox hunter himself, have tried all manner of sneaky ways to amend the hunting act. The only reason Cameron has stopped short of holding a free vote on repeal of the hunting act altogether is because he knows fully well he would lose and the abysmal failure would be just another sign of how removed our PM is from reality and the opinion of the British public.

However, one thing that concerns me is the total lack of enforcement of the law and the complete indifference of the police to uphold it and prevent these people from having their blood kicks and slaying our wildlife. The police are not unknown to regularly attend illegal hunts- there are approximately 176 registered packs of foxhounds in England and Wales; hunt monitors hand in graphic footage and harried reports are made by alarmed members of the public but the fact is the police don’t care, don’t do anything and almost always the mounted criminals get away with savagery.
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I have always viewed any attempt to justify a sport that involves killing as a reflection of an unhealthy mind and nothing will change my opinion on that. Such sadistic past times have a pernicious influence over society’s values and attitudes. What does it say about our society in 2015 if some, albeit a small minority, continue to indulge in their vicious pleasures in bare faced defiance of the law, the rights of our wildlife and the will of the British people. Cruelty not class is what that matters in our countryside because animal cruelty in the name of ‘sport’ is nothing to do with one’s class, background or custom. It is a universal wrong that unifies people from all sectors of society, walks of life and party allegiance because it is both illegal and immoral.

The Green Party is a political party that stands up for the common good which includes other species too. It will put policies in place which will stop us treating other species and the natural environment as a means to the satisfaction of humans only. In England and Wales there have been a pathetic twelve convictions for illegal hunting which shows just how feebly the Hunting Act 2004 is being enforced. The Green Party is determined to ensure the Hunting Act, as the important and successful piece of legislation that it is, is protected from repeal and will work hard to ensure the law is enforced.

Victoria Martindale

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Broxtowe Green Party parliamentary candidate supports charity’s call for better mental health provision

Broxtowe Green Party parliamentary candidate David Kirwan has backed calls for better provision of support for local people in mental health crisis. Mind, the mental health charity, is calling for local services to deliver on their promise to improve the support for people who are suicidal, self-harming or in psychosis.

Last year, national and local governments, and leaders of key services in England, including health, police, and voluntary organisations, signed the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat, an agreement that sets national standards for the care of people in mental health crisis. The Concordat aims to make sure that no matter where someone turns, they get the help they need and don’t fall through the cracks between different services. Key organisations in Broxtowe have since come together to sign their own local declaration agreeing to achieve the Concordat standards and are now preparing a local action plan to deliver them. [NB a small number of local areas have already done action plans this includes Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire You can check progress here http://www.crisiscareconcordat.org.uk/areas/nottinghamshire/

David Kirwan said:

  • One in four constituents will experience a mental health problem this year and countless more will be affected through friends, family, work colleagues and other people in their lives.
  • A growing number of people are accessing mental health services – services must be able to respond quickly and appropriately when someone reaches out and asks for help.
  • The Governments emphasis on tendering of services can result in various different service providers providing different elements of mental health care. Many people with mental health issues need consistency for best results not the lowest cost provider.  
  • I am supporting Mind’s campaign to improve crisis care and will be monitoring progress on our local Concordat declaration to make sure that good intentions are made a reality for everyone trying to access crisis care.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “In a mental health crisis, your mind is at melting point. You may experience extreme anxiety, have suicidal thoughts or even a psychotic episode. It can happen to anyone. When you’re in crisis you need compassion and understanding, no matter who you turn to for help – whether it’s health and ambulance services, the police, social care or voluntary organisations.

“Signing a local Concordat is the first step in improving services but we need to see these good intentions translated into better services for everyone in crisis. We need the next government, and the next set of MPs, to provide clear leadership and resources to make sure the Concordat’s standards are achieved and local action plans delivered so that excellent crisis care is available everywhere.”

More information about the Concordat, including details about Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire’s declaration, can be found at www.crisiscareconcordat.co.uk

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Trident – a wasted opportunity

trident

It was extremely disappointing to see the remarkably low turnout yesterday to debate renewing the Trident Nuclear weapon system, especially as it comes with a price tag of £100 billion!

Not surprisingly as a Defence minister and Conservative Anna Soubry voted in favour of the renewal. What was more concerning is the lack of Labour MP’s in attendance and the vast majority if those who did attend also voting with the Tories in favour of renewal. Needless to say Green Party MP Caroline Lucas was in attendance and Voted NOT to renew.

It was only last week that Labour and the Tories also voted for £30 billion of more austerity. £100 billion would virtually re pay the portion of the deficit being addressed by austerity.

Nuclear weapons have no legitimate purpose. Their use would be illegal under virtually every conceivable circumstance as huge civilian casualties would be unavoidable. Nuclear weapons kill indiscriminately and the radioactive fallout from their use know no geographical boundaries and therefore affect the entire planet.

Senior military figures including Field Marshal Lord Bramall, General Lord Ramsbotham, General Sir Hugh Beach and Major-General Patrick Cordingley have questioned the long-term consequences for the military and the defence equipment budget if the Trident replacement was pursued. When we face a situation where our armed forces are left without basic equipment and are made redundant how can £100 billion be justified on a weapons system we all must pray is never used.

Deterrent?

The main argument for retaining a nuclear system is as a deterrent. A deterrent to what? The rest of continental Europe with the exception of France do not have a nuclear ‘deterrent’ and I do not see they are facing threats from nuclear warhead holding countries and so why would we?

It’s interesting to note that the existence of nuclear weapons had no effect on the Korean war, wars in the Middle East, the Balkans, the invasion of Kuwait, the invasion of the Falklands, the Sunni/Shiite war in Syria and the annexation of Crimea by Russia, to name but a few. It also has no effect of the threat we face from ISIS so what exactly is being deterred?

Deterrence is a self-sustaining policy that will only lead to escalating military expenditure. Deterrence with weapons of mass destruction relies on an unconscionable threat.

The Green Party is clear on its stance on nuclear weapons;

The Green Party rejects any reliance on nuclear weapons. This rejection means that we will decommission UK’s own nuclear weapons and insist on the removal of US nuclear bases. No further research will take place into nuclear weapons and the export of nuclear technology will be stopped. Ships carrying nuclear weapons will be banned from British ports.

The £100 Billion pounds committed expenditure passed by Labour and the Tories yesterday could have helped to fund our Crisis hit NHS, our education system, could have ended austerity in fact in could have done so much instead it has been spent on a weapons system the vast majority of countries in the world live safely and happily without and that if ever were used would mean the end of civilisation as we know it today. Nuclear weapons do not deter wars carry on throughout the world against nations with and without a nuclear system, its time to say no more and to abandon our nuclear warhead system and encourage those countries that still retain them to do the same.

David Kirwan – Broxtowe Prospective Parliamentary Candidate

david.kirwan@greenparty.org.uk     Twitter @davegaz

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Broxtowe Labour behaviour in question

Just days after posting on social media that he doesn’t comment on individuals, Labour PPC Nick Palmer seems to have succumbed to pressure and has finally commented on the actions of local Labour councillors.

He seems to belittle the recent actions of Milan Radulovic, Leader of the Labour group and also leader of Broxtowe Borough Council. Nick describes the incident as using a rude word to a constituent.  In fact the rude word was a highly offensive expletive, it was in response to the said constituent also using inappropriate language. The big difference is that as a member of the public they are not answerable to anyone for their actions whereas as a councillor and leader of a borough council you most certainly are.

Whatever the provocation I believe the vast majority of residents would not expect the leader of the council to use such language with a constituent. It was only a matter of weeks ago that Mr Radulovic himself had to reprimand another Labour councillor for using inappropriate language against Green Party councillor Kat Boetgge. Mr Radulovic in that instance insisted Councillor Andy Cooper apologise and attend additional training. When he himself is accused of inappropriate language he decides not to follow his own advice it seems, as he has repeatedly refused to apologise.

Nick Palmer’s response is that is it undesirable for people in public life to swear in public.

The second issue Nick Palmer has now commented on is Labour councillor Richard Robinson admitting to supporting people from outside the area (London in fact) using aliases on social media to promote the controversial Kimberley tram proposals that have been forced through by the Labour group in Broxtowe.

Nick Palmer’s response is that he feels everyone should be advised to post under their own names.

These are hardly resounding condemnations of poor behaviour from Labour councillors. For many years now Broxtowe Labour have been promoting ‘positive politics’. Is using expletives, referring to colleagues as Eva Braun and using aliases on social media Labour’s idea of positive politics?

Mr Palmer then goes on to insinuate that there is a Tory-Green pact in Broxtowe. As the Green party prospective parliamentary candidate I can absolutely refute this ridiculous allegation. Although I understand that Labour may not recall the difference between left and right wing politics we in the Green Party do, and the objectives of the Conservative and Green parties could not be more opposed and so why would we have a pact to help preserve a conservative government. What has actually happened is that where there is agreement on any issue with any party we are happy to say so, we will not oppose for the sake of opposing.

I believe the public want to see more honesty in politics and that includes admitting when we are wrong and agreeing when we can, being criticised for agreeing on any issue merely evidences Labours old fashioned view of combative politics.

This brings me to the final point Mr Palmer comments on, Anna Soubry seizing on a rumour with two green party member’s regarding Kimberley Town Council. I presume by two green party members he means myself and Kat Boetgge.

As local councillors we raised concerns that we did not have information relating to the detailed financial status of the council and were concerned. This was confirmed by Kimberley Town Council chair Dave Nunn agreeing the financial report presented to the AGM was not what it should be. Following concerns raised, the financial reporting of the council is now far more transparent. I believe the accounts are published on a regular basis and councillors have access to the information previously withheld enabling confidence in the way the council conducts its business. Kat and I had to resign in order to be able to expose our concerns due to rules within the council forbidding contacting the press without the permission of the chair. I fail to see what there is to apologise for?

Nick seems to suggest that we in the Green party need the oxygen of publicity that a pact with the Tories would give us.

To that I would say take a look at the opinion polls, the By election results, the Green Party membership figures and you will see that without any publicity from any other party and indeed the media in general we are consistently polling higher than the Lib Dems at 8-10%, we are beating the Lib Dems in Newark, Clacton and Rochester by elections and we have more than doubled our membership to become larger than the Lib Dems and UKIP in terms of fee paying members with over 50,000 members.

This election in Broxtowe as well as in the country as a whole is not merely an old fashioned battle between blue and red any more. Voters will have a choice at Town, Borough and National levels and nothing can be taken for granted. Voters will decide on performance and the performance of Labour councillors of late falls below the standard I suspect most people in Broxtowe would require.

David Kirwan

Prospective Parliamentary Candidate – Broxtowe Green Party

david.kirwan@greenparty.org.uk    twitter @davegaz

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