Corbyn is a new entry this year
The political emergence of Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the
British Labour Party, in the 2017 general election put the
socialist on the world stage. Corbyn's near-miss election
changed the UK's political dynamic.
During the election, he campaigned to increase corporation
tax by nearly a third and, in good faith, released a copy of
his own tax return to encourage transparency about tax
arrangements among political leaders, sending a clear signal
that he stands by his beliefs.
Through his election mandate, he set the country on course
for tax hikes to facilitate spending, proposing to rid
favourable tax regulations for multinationals. He also raised
attention to the dangers that automation poses to jobs,
suggesting methods to tax technology.
Although he is not in power, his influence has pressured the
governing Conservative Party, which lacks a parliamentary
majority, into reconsidering several tax policies.
He has played a key role in campaigning for a full public
inquiry into tax avoidance and evasion schemes. Corbyn has also
been calling for the adoption of a register of companies and
trusts and who benefits from them, a new tax enforcement unit
in HMRC and an end to public contracts for companies abusing
"It is by no means all big businesses but these actions by a
few undermine trust in all businesses. And businesses are the
victim too, not just reputationally but financially. Those
businesses that play by the rules and pay the taxes they owe
are being undercut by those who don't," Corbyn said.
Throughout 2017, the Labour Party Leader has been persistent
in ensuring the UK support tax avoidance and evasion proposals
made by the European Commission. During Parliament discussions,
Corbyn insisted on continuing the adoption of transparency
regulations to curb tax avoidance. When the Conservative Party
members of the European Parliament voted against
country-by-country-reporting and blacklisting, he fired
questions at UK Prime Minister Theresa May, pressing her to
support the measures.
Corbyn has also been the first MP in the UK to highlight the
need for a robot tax on the profits generated by automation.
"We need urgently to face the challenge of automation; robotics
that could make so much of contemporary work redundant. That is
a threat in the hands of the greedy but what an opportunity if
it's managed in the interests of society as a whole… If
planned and managed properly, accelerated technological change
can be the gateway for a new settlement between work and
leisure, a springboard for expanded creativity and culture,
making technology our servant and not our master at long last.
The tide of automation and technological change means training
and management of the workforce must be centre stage in the
coming years. So Labour will build an education and training
system from the cradle to the grave that empowers people not
one that shackles them with debt," he said in a keynote speech
at a Labour conference on September 28.
The Labour party leader's approach to tax reform is seen as
extreme by the Prime Minister, but even May herself concedes to
the fact that public opinion appears to be more favourable to
Labour's economic ideas in an article she wrote in The
Guardian. The International Monetary Fund also agrees that a
higher tax on wealthy individuals, which was proposed by
Corbyn, is crucial to stopping rising inequality.
Corbyn is indeed at the frontier of strategic tax reform for
a changing UK economy. His influence extends to the prominent
discussions takin place in government about how the country can
use tax as an instrument for change.
With Corbyn seemingly unassailable at the top of the Labour
Party and May circled by sharks within her own ranks, few would
predict her to outlast him. The morning after the UK's next
election – be it in 2018 due to Brexit-inspired
government collapse, or as late as 2022 – is more
likely than not to see the country wake up to its first
socialist prime minister in more than half a century.