Now is the time for a campaign to stop Murdoch’s tax dodging
Many of you will no doubt be enjoying the collapse of Rupert Murdoch’s evil empire as much as I am. The end of his cynical, sneering and prurient approach to journalism can only be a good thing. But we shouldn’t confine our glee to the end of a nasty newspaper or two. There’s a person behind this huge media operation. And he hasn’t limited his use of the power that comes with massive media ownership to just bashing foreigners, demeaning women and undermining democracy. He’s used that power to ensure that he pays no tax.
There’s always been an irony about the Murdoch media telling us we can’t afford schools, hospitals or decent care provision while he himself pays no tax on the profits he earns in this country. As politicians and journalists find the courage to speak out against Murdoch’s media malpractice for the first time we must push again for a crack down on his tax dodging.
I remember being pretty shocked to find out that in the 11 years to 1999 Murdoch paid no tax. That’s right, no tax at all. He dodged around £350m of payment to the public good. No wonder he could afford to pay for an army of ‘phone hackers and corrupt police. It seems particularly awful that this money was used to invade people’s privacy when it could have paid for seven hospitals, 50 secondary schools or 300 primary schools.
In that period it was calculated that internationally the Murdoch-controlled News Corporation paid corporation tax at rate of just 6%, rather than the going rate of around 30%.
So what’s happened since 1999? Well it’s interesting that there hasn’t been much in the way of coverage of Murdoch’s tax affairs. Murdoch has a ferocious reputation for attacking his opponents in public life, as Chris Bryant found out when The Sun published photos of him in his underwear. Similarly, he tolerates no dissent from within his empire. And for a journalist that means papers which have a combined market share of more than a third of UK newspaper circulation. You wouldn’t expect that many journalists can afford to rule out working for a Murdoch title. Similarly, many politicians had been so thoroughly intimidated by Murdoch that they wouldn’t call for an investigation.
Now that Murdoch’s power is ebbing away, so will the fear of brutal tabloid retribution, or redundancy. So now is the time for a crack-down on tax avoidance by News International and the Murdoch family. It is great to see the force for evil that is the Murdoch media being destroyed. But it would be even better to get back some of the money they’ve been taking away from our vital public services.
We need a broad based campaign, like that run by UK Uncut against other tax dodgers. That campaign should run on blogs, in Parliament, in the mainstream media and through a popular boycott of the Murdoch media until we get our money back.