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It's time for the Scottish Government to offer full public support to the Robin Hood Tax

Posted by Lindsay Clydesdale Campaigns Press Officer, Scotland

23rd Feb 2012

Campaigners for a fairer financial system have called on the Scottish Government to support the Robin Hood Tax (RHT) to heap pressure on the UK Coalition to implement it.

It comes after the Royal Bank of Scotland announced that despite making a £2 billion loss last year - it will still pay bonuses totalling £785 million to staff. The bonus payout by the bank - which is 82% taxpayer owned - includes £390 million for the firm's investment bankers.

Oxfam, which is part of the RHT coalition, wants Scottish politicians to send a clear message to David Cameron and George Osborne that it's time for a Robin Hood Tax.

A YouGov poll for Oxfam found 62% of Scots want a new financial transaction tax (FTT) with the funds spent on poverty at home and abroad, and on tackling climate change. Despite this, the First Minister of Scotland has failed yet to give his full public endorsement to the tax.

Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said:

"The time has come for the Scottish Government to echo the Scottish public's support for a fair and affordable tax on the industry that caused the global financial crash.

"When the welfare state is being squeezed and many people are struggling, Scotland's politicians should be listening to the public - the majority of who back a Robin Hood Tax.

"This week the Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has voiced his support for the tax - it's time for Alex Salmond to show similar leadership."

A global Financial Transaction Tax of about 0.05% on transactions like stocks, bonds, foreign currency and derivatives could raise £250 billion a year. Under a Robin Hood Tax, 50% of the money raised would be spent on poverty in the UK, 25% on fighting poverty in developing countries and 25% on tackling climate change.

Even Alex Salmond's own economic adviser - the Nobel Prize-winning economist, and former Senior Vice President of the World Bank, Professor Joseph Stiglitz - backs the tax.

This week, nine European countries wrote to the Danish EU Presidency asking them to speed up work on introducing an FTT and have a draft ready by July this year. [1]

Earlier this week the Welsh Assembly took the lead when Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones became the first government leader in the UK to voice his support for the Robin Hood Tax. Mr Jones joins a growing list of global political, business and civil leaders - including the billionaire Bill Gates and French President Nicolas Sarkozy - who support the measure. [2]

[1] The letter was signed by the finance ministers of France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Portugal and Spain as well as by the Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and described the FTT as: 'Necessary at community level, both to ensure a fair contribution from the financial sector to the cost of the financial crisis, but also to improve the regulation of financial markets.'

[2] Supporters of the RHT include Labour leader Ed Milliband, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Archbishop Rowan Williams, Secretary General for the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon, former vice President Al Gore, financier George Soros, Chairman of the Financial Services Authority Lord Adair Turner, film-maker Michael Moore, Nobel Prize-winning economist and former Senior Vice President of the World Bank Professor Joseph Stiglitz, American business magnate Warren Buffett, and 1000 economists from 53 countries.

Support for the FTT has also come from some surprising sources. David Harding, chief executive of Winton Capital, one of London's biggest hedge funds added his weight to a European FTT, saying "I would be in favour of a low [Financial Transaction Tax], if part of it was used to finance more supranational regulation of markets." Financial Times, 27 Nov 2011, 'Hedge fund chief backs transaction plans.'

[3] The SNP's party policy agrees with the principles of a Tobin Tax, but the Robin Hood Tax goes a step further to cover all financial transactions.

[4] The Robin Hood Tax campaign is a coalition of 115 UK organisations including Barnardo's, Comic Relief, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, Stamp Out Poverty and the TUC. The campaign has 250,000 supporters and we are endorsed by over 1,000 economists and politicians from all main political parties. We are calling for new financial sector taxes to help tackle poverty and climate change, at home and abroad.

Blog post written by Lindsay Clydesdale

Campaigns Press Officer, Scotland

More by Lindsay Clydesdale