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We have to stop the ‘me first’ mentality

08 February, 2018

• I’M grateful for your balanced and substantially accurate report of the meeting for tax justice, organised by Camden Momentum, which I had the honour to chair.

In your February 1 Comment (Citizens with more of a voice may be happier to pay tax) you refer to me as having claimed that tax dodging is “morally reprehensible”. In fact I was making a larger claim. In my view the issue of tax avoidance and evasion goes beyond personal morality, telling the truth, not stealing, and so on.

It has to do with something larger than that, that I’d call the “common good”, the obligation that we have towards the fate of the larger society around us, the network of obligations we all have to our fellows, that acts as an ethical substance or glue, keeping a community together.

Tax avoidance and evasion, which promotes inequality and public squalor, obliterates that glue and pulverises the common good. It promotes the “me first” attitude that has done so much damage nationally and locally. That’s why we have to stop it.

One more point: you add that a more “participatory democracy” might promote public confidence in the system of tax. I couldn’t agree more; and the huge increase in Labour Party membership is a clear sign that many more people agree with you as well.

Charrington Street, NW1


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