Campaigners’ policy statement calls for an end to tax havens and tax avoidance
Occupy London protesters have been camping outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London for more than a month and have now issued a statement on how they want to end the injustices of the global financial system. Photograph: Paul Hackett/Reuters
The Occupy London movement has agreed its first specific set of proposals about corporations, just over six weeks since it first set up camp outside St Paul’s cathedral to campaign against the perceived excesses and injustices of the global financial system.
While the protest has gathered considerable publicity and expanded to three sites – as well as St Paul’s, there are offshoot camps in Finsbury Square, further east, and inside a vacant office complex nearby owned by the Swiss bank USB – it has faced criticism about a lack of concrete demands. Agreeing these has proved a complicated process, as all decision are reached by consensus at mass meetings.
The first policy statement on corporations calls for an end to tax havens and tax avoidance, more transparency over business lobbying, and legal reforms to make individual executives more liable for the consequences of their decisions.
“Globally, corporations deprive the public purse of hundreds of billions of pounds each year, leaving insufficient funds to provide people with fair living standards. We must abolish tax havens and complex tax avoidance schemes, and ensure corporations pay tax that accurately reflects their real profits,” the statement said.
On lobbying, it calls for laws to ensure “full and public transparency of all corporate lobbying activities”. Finally, the statement argues that executives must be “personally liable for their role in the misdeeds of their corporations and duly charged for all criminal behaviour”.
Soon after the first camp was set up on the western edge of St Paul’s, after police prevented activists basing themselves near the headquarters of the London Stock Exchange, the group issued general proposals, calling the current economic system “unsustainable” and opposing public spending cuts. The only other such statement called for more transparency and democracy within the Corporation of London, the governing authority within the City district, which owns some of the land adjoining St Paul’s and which is taking legal action to evict the campers.
“From the moment the Occupy London Stock Exchange occupation started, in the full glare of the media and in the court of public opinion, we have continually been asked, ‘What do you want?’ “What are your demands?'” said Jamie Kelsey, a member of the corporations policy group.
“We are calling time on a system where corporates and their employees pursue profit at all costs. Just as corporates have played their role in the iniquities of the current system, they are also part of the solution and we invite them to join this important conversation.”