By Malcolm Burgess, Oxfam Constituency Campaigner
It’s been a roller coaster two years since the Oxfam tax avoidance campaign began.
There has been a General Election. Did the issue of tax justice make it onto the doorstep? As someone who canvassed for one of the parties, I’d say not exactly. But then the major political parties hardly pushed it their ends.
The Panama Papers. The media was full of tax avoidance and everyone was talking about it – even if it just fuelled some people’s deep cynicism about toxic politicians and business. It put us on the agenda and was a brilliant ‘way in’ when it came to lobbying my local MP who of course agreed tax avoidance was wrong. But when it came down to the specifics he wasn’t perhaps as transparent as I would have hoped
Brexit. I fear the worst thing that can happen is that we forget about a wider world. How will international aid and development fare? I think nobody quite knows but I have some dreadful suspicions. To what extent does the tax avoidance campaign need EU support or has this happened on the EU’s watch?
But, whatever the challenges, I think about the campaign day I attended early in 2015. I remember a young Zambian activist telling us that, thanks to multi-national mining companies refusing to pay their legal taxes, public services in Zambia were at rock bottom – while fewer students were able to attend university.
I’ll think of this activist again when I next meet my MP or anyone who tries to kick the campaign into any convenient long grass.
Bring it on, I say.
Photo: Mike Kingdon, 2016. Tax Campaigning in the UK.