A government funded think-tank, the Economic Research Institute, has suggested cutting corporation tax in Northern Ireland to just 12 percent in order to stimulate jobs.
Both Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein have welcomed the idea. Companies in the Irish Republic pay just 12.5 percent.
This move is presented as a one off to help an area blighted by poverty but there is something bigger going on. Both Germany and the Netherlands have cut corporation tax in recent weeks. German chancellor Angela Merkel has warned of a “race to the bottom” of European Union tax rates.
The Scottish National Party’s enterprise spokesperson has promised to slash corporation tax from the British rate of 30 percent to just 20 percent if it forms an administration after next spring’s Scottish parliamentary elections.
The pressure across Europe is to cut taxes for big business. Once more the burden will shift onto working people. No doubt Gordon Brown will be considering following suit when he becomes prime minister.
A dark day for justice
New Labour ministers are engaged in a grubby contest to see who can most thoroughly smash civil liberties and persecute Muslims.
Last Sunday, chancellor Gordon Brown went on record saying he “completely agreed” with Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Ian Blair over his latest proposals. Ian Blair claimed that the British criminal justice system is too liberal to cope with the threat of terrorism.
“The sky is dark,” was Blair’s poetic and vacuous justification. So new measures are required, including the extension of the 28-day limit for holding terrorist suspects without charge, the increased use of phonetap evidence and increased interview powers for police.
Brown said that the war on terrorism would be his “first priority” if he became prime minister. He even attacked Tory leader David Cameron for being too soft.
There is a pattern to all of this. The more the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sink into the quagmire, the more Labour will lash out at those it perceives as vulnerable. And the more rival ministers will compete to see who can go furthest in continuing Tony Blair’s authoritarian legacy.
That means more attacks on Muslims, and more and harsher anti-terror laws to police the permanent heightened threat of terrorism produced by war and occupation.
Poor pay with their lives
In 2001 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) signed an agreement to ensure that intellectual property rules would no longer obstruct developing countries’ efforts to protect public health.
Five years on and 30 percent of the world’s population don’t have regular access to essential medicines. In Africa 77 percent still have no access to Aids treatment.
The US is pushing through trade rules that will increase drug prices. For Colombia this means having to pay an additional £494 million per year by 2020 to cover the increased cost of medicines - affecting nearly six million patients.
Once again fine words have been followed with inaction.