UK: Gordon Brown's transaction tax given lukewarm reception

Time warp back to the 1970s

Political version of "Life on Mars"

Gordon Brown is a deep red, old fashioned socialist in the 1970s Labour mold. Whereas Tony Blair was the shiny, spin-obsessed, non-stick façade of “New Labour” (i.e. not really Labour, but Conservatives with compassion), Brown is like a throwback to the days of Jim Callaghan and Denis Healey, to the days of Arthur Scargill and strikes every week and power cuts and garbage piling up in the streets.

So in the dying days of the UK Labour government, with no hope of being re-elected, Brown is trying to impose global socialism for one last time, with a “transaction tax” on all financial institutions, to funnel a proportion of all global financial transactions back to the government for redistribution, one of the beneficiaries of such a tax being “tackling climate change”. But no-one is buying it, thankfully (not even the US):

The proposal, which took delegates by surprise at the [G20] meeting in St Andrew’s overshadowed other items on the agenda.

The US said it would “not support” a transaction tax and Canada added it was “not an idea we would look at”.

The Conservatives said that Downing Street had previously “poured cold water on this proposal” and that the Treasury had called it “unworkable”.

The head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Khan, said he believed the transaction tax was unlikely to be adopted.

“I don’t believe it will be a transaction tax because transactions are very difficult to measure and so it’s very easy to avoid a transaction tax,” he told Sky News.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner dismissed the idea of such a tax, saying: “That’s not something that we’re prepared to support.”

He told reporters: “This is an idea that has been around for a long time. Many countries have a lot of experience with the design of these kinds of taxes. I think, frankly, the experience has been mixed.”

Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty also rejected the proposal, telling Sky News it was “not something we would be interested in in Canada”.

He added: “We are not in the business of raising taxes, we are in the business of lowering taxes in Canada. It is not an idea we would look at.”

Your time has run out, Gordon. The exit is that way.

Read it here.

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