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Archbishop of Canterbury Calls for Tobin Tax in Solidarity with Occupy Protesters but PM Says No

Posted on the 02 November 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Archbishop of Canterbury calls for Tobin tax in solidarity with Occupy protesters but PM says no

Robin Hood. Photo credit: Brandon Weight,

David Cameron has ruled out the possibility of a “Robin Hood tax” unless the measure is adopted globally. The Robin Hood tax, also known as a “Tobin tax”, involves levying a low rate of tax on banking transactions such as bonds, shares and currency trading. The European Commission has proposed such a tax for the EU, and France and Germany are in favour. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams spoke out in favour of the idea in The Financial Times, as a way of furthering the “moral agenda” of the Occupy London protest outside St Paul’s cathedral.

Not so merry men. Helene Mulholland reported for The Guardian that Cameron told MPs he agreed with Williams’s call for greater financial responsibility from the country’s highest earners. However, Cameron also said he would be against a financial transaction tax (FTT) unless it was adopted “on a global basis”, rather than in the EU alone.

No to Robin Hood. According to Juliet Samuel in City AM, Chancellor George Osborne is even less enthusiastic than the prime minister about the tax. Samuel quoted from a private letter sent by Osborne to bank chiefs that implies he is unconvinced even a globally adopted FTT would work: “I agree there would need to be further discussions about whether any FTT model offers an efficient mechanism to raise revenue,” the chancellor said in the letter.

Destroying the City. Writing in The Daily Mail, Alex Brummer argued that imposing a tax on banking transactions would destroy London’s status as a financial centre, pointing out that the City provides hundreds of thousands of jobs. Brummer agreed with the prime minister’s stance, writing that if the measure were not applied throughout the world, “we will see foreign exchange and derivatives dealings conducted through Panama or Pacific Island subsidiaries and exchanges out of sight of the G20 economies”.

Victory for Occupy. The Archbishop’s comments came a day after St Paul’s officials backed down over their threat to take legal action to evict Occupy protesters. Writing in The Evening Standard, Matthew d’Ancona suggested protesters would be thrilled at the confluence of events, as they are clearly winning the media war. D’Ancona was unimpressed with the Church’s “dithering”: “The church authorities have ended up looking like a heritage society caught on the hop rather than a moral force engaging with the society of which the cathedral is a part,” he said.

Occupy aim. Indeed, calls for a Robin Hood tax have come from the Occupy movement around the world. Elizabeth Flock reported for The Washington Post that Occupy Wall Street protesters intend to travel to the G20 summit in France to push for the FTT.

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