Vodafone haven’t paid £6 billion in tax which it’s estimated they should have done. Some people aren’t too happy with that.
I hugely admire the people going out there and protesting this, and I don’t doubt that there’s value in keeping up the attention this is getting. But I’m not convinced it’s going to be solved by members of the public directly persuading Vodafone to just pay a huge tax bill which they’re not being legally forced to pay.
As much as setting up camp outside their stores is making some nationwide waves, we’re never going to cause this company so much inconvenience this way that it will become worth their while to voluntarily cough up £6,000,000,000. For now, weathering the protests and keeping the money is still the less painful option for them.
The point at which this stops being the case is when the company’s senior executives start being arrested and charged with crimes that could land them in jail for decades. That is what motivates corporations to pay their taxes. For that matter, it’s what motivates individuals too. David Mitchell makes a similar point.
The UK Uncut campaign has done great work in highlighting this matter and rallying people around a worthwhile cause. But I think it will need eventually to turn its attentions to the politicians who have bizarrely decided not to pursue this bounteous source of legitimate revenue.
If we’re really “all in this together”, as very rich politicians keep telling us, then there’s no excuse for a corporation being let off a £6 billion tax bill while £7 billion is being cut from welfare programs. Let’s keep telling our politicians that. They can’t be expected to figure it out for themselves, the poor dears.