Labour and Boots

I naturally agree that Labour’s policies would be bad for business. Their energy price freeze policy threatens normal pricing behaviour, annoys the companies, creates investment uncertainties and now also ironically means dearer energy when world prices are falling.

Their policy of more intervention and taxation of financial services and banking hits an important UK revenue earner, following their disastrous period regulating the industry badly in the previous decade. They want higher Corporation tax which is never a crowd pleaser with big business, higher individual income tax, not popular with the higher paid, and often use anti business rhetoric. Labour regards business as either the source of social problems, or the agent that must be made to remedy social problems which others might think the government should fix.

I have no problem in a democracy with anyone with an interesting view expressing it. The Acting Chief Executive of Boots made some good points – and one or two points I do not agree with. That makes a political market. He has also illustrated exactly what I predicted when I explained to senior business people that if they used the name of the company they work for but do not own to make a highly political point, it will drag the company into politics and may result in reputational damage to that company.

The shareholders, other employees and customers of Boots may not like this. In what sense does the Acting Chief Executive speak for them? Is it wise to venture the company’s reputation in this way, when the Acting CEO does not know the views and voting intentions of all the other stakeholders in the company? By all means let’s hear from Mr Pessina as an individual with his anti Labour views, but let’s hear less from Boots. Labour now sees it as an opportunity to put the boot into Boots, as they are stung by the criticism. Neither Labour nor Boots will gain from these rows.

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127 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Labour’s proposed energy price freeze policy threatens normal pricing behaviour, annoys the companies and creates damaging investment uncertainties – indeed it does. But then so does the idiotic climate change act and the daft subsidies for expensive and intermittent wind/PV, the damaging employment laws, Cameron’s gender neutral insurance, the free at the point of use education and NHS and other complete absurdities from this dreadful coalition.

    It is probably not wise to push large companies into politics, clearly a director should be acting in the interest of their company in general. But he might argue that in perhaps helping to defeat Labour he was doing.

    Having said that the absurd PC “BBC/ Woman’s hour think” line that company directors of large companies nearly always take (on for example all the mad & damaging employment laws, inability to fire poor staff, the excessive equality laws, the total imbalance in employment tribunals, the endless green crap, over expensive energy, over the top health and safely laws, gender equality on insurance and annuities, the endless over regulation of everything, the over taxation & over complex taxation) can be truly nauseous and is clearly totally dishonest.

    He is of course right in the Labour will be hugely damaging but so are the coalition and the EU, they are all inflicting a huge and damaging burden on industry, exporting jobs and wealth to places with rather better government and more competitive advantages.

    Should one tell the truth or say what is in the short term interests of your company – that surely is the question? Some truths should surely out or we get endless BBC think from everyone.

    Politicians are of course masters of telling complete lies especially pre-election – in the interest of buying or gaining votes or winning financial support (even to the extent of passing damaging laws to favour their supporters one in power) – do we want our business leaders to tell the truth or be more like these damaging and dishonest politicians?

    Lefty Politicians who suggest that we can up wages and lower rents by passing idiotic laws, and pretend to voters they have a magic government money tree are the enemy. They are far too common in LibLabCon and are indeed largely in control of the current Tory party.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      It is reported that: Mr Miliband said that “people at the top” needed to show responsibility when it came to paying taxes and he would brook no criticism from a “tax exile from Monaco”.- “I don’t think people in Britain are going to take kindly to being lectured by someone who is avoiding his taxes, on how they should be voting in the UK general election.”

      Why on earth should this Italian not live in Monaco if he wants to? If he moved to England then the cost to him might be £billions in tax over the years. He probably has rather better things to do with it that let Milliband’s or Cameron’s government piss it down the drain. Anyway he might well not like the climate or the food in say Nottingham.

      With governments like this appalling Coalition and soon Labour (with their endless love of greencrap, bloated government, buying votes, propaganda, HS2 and endless other waste) the most responsible thing one can do is usually avoid paying tax as best as you legally can. Then invest it or spend it wisely yourself.

      • A different Simon
        Posted February 3, 2015 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        “Anyway he might well not like the climate or the food in say Nottingham. ”

        Miliband or Mr Pessina ?

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 3, 2015 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

          Both, I cannot really imagine Miliband living very long in Nottingham, too far from Hampstead and Primrose Hill.

      • BeeCee
        Posted February 3, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        Or blow it so they cannot grab it when you die!

  2. Richard1
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Mr Pessina is of course a substantial shareholder in Boots. To be fair to him the point he was making was would Labour be as bad as it sounds? Certainly if they implement all their anti-business policies they would be a disaster but Mr Pessina
    Was speculating – to a business audience – that they they may not perhaps do that in the event. The risk of a Labour govt is a huge business issue, its quite difficult to say it shouldn’t be discussed along with other business risks.

    The reaction of pathetic Mr Miliband and Labour is extraordinary. Instead of addressing the concerns and saying why they wouldn’t be bad for business Miliband has said Mr Pessina should pay more UK tax! What an absurdity, why should a wealthy Italian come and pay more tax here and put himself at risk of Labour’s mansion tax, 52% income tax etc? Voters need to recognize that a Labour govt which liked to keep the likes of Mr Pessina out of the UK will be bad for jobs and prosperity.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      A wealthy person moving to the UK and staying there is likely to have most of their wealth taken off them gradually over the years. With income tax at up to 45%, VAT at 20%, council tax, SDLT, fuel duty, CGT at 28% and the 40% IHT tax on death as the final coup de grâce.

      True a non UK domiciled person can mitigate some of this for a while, (which is of course a blatantly racist tax system – discriminating against UK doms).

      The nondom system is needed as without it few rich people would ever go to live in the UK. The overall government expenditure is only about £10K per head. Why should anyone have to pay millions or even billions in tax for this £10K or less of usually second rate services provided by government? Especially when they probably pay for their education and health care.

      If the government used the money wisely it might be different, but they so rarely ever do.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 3, 2015 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        The top 1% of earners will pay almost one third of all income tax so we need more high earners in the UK not fewer, and for the existing ones not to leave.

        Or tax receipts will be in an even bigger mess than they are.

      • Mondeo Man
        Posted February 3, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic – “Why should anyone have to pay millions or even billions in tax for this £10K or less of usually second rate services provided by government? ”

        Because the taxpayer funded infrastructure and systems have made the country attractive to these businesses, including the subsidised (imported) ‘cheap’ workforce. Of course those individuals should be paying more tax if their opinions are to guide governments to do things – especially if they are things which the majority dislike.

        Mr Pessina’s comments should be no more (or less) welcome than those businessmen who interfere in elections to tell us not to leave the EU.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 3, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

          The £10,000 the government spends per head included the cost of infrastructure so I repeat why should someone have to pay millions or even billions in tax for just £10K per head in return. Most of that spent on duff second rate services, bureaucrats, inconveniencing the productive, overseas aid and green crap.

          All the workers they employ will be paying their taxes too and VAT and corporation tax.

        • libertarian
          Posted February 3, 2015 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

          Mondeo Man

          Can you point me to the taxpayer funded infrastructure that is so attractive to overseas investors please. I’m not sure what you mean by taxpayer funded systems

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 3, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        The Scottish will still be able to veto English laws I see. Cameron it seems has caved in yet again. Giving the Scottish a hugely better deal that the English and worse still a way of demanding a yet better deal by holding England to ransom.

        On the daily politics just now we had Matt Ridley and Jacob Rees-Mogg discussing the genetic manipulation & three parent babies.

        I usually agree with almost everything that comes from both of them. The scientist here is surely right though, rather than the Catholic influenced Jacob Rees-Mogg.

        • Richard1
          Posted February 4, 2015 at 11:15 am | Permalink

          Excellent summary of this in tuesdays FT comment, reminding us the Vatican described IVF as the work of the devil some years ago, since when 5m IVF babies have been born.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 3, 2015 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        It’s been pointed out to like many other things on this site that we live in a democracy and to maintain this democracy the rich including non doms who live under the same shy should pay more tax to maintain this system if not for their own good. Have think as to why so many rich Russians are here and not elsewhere as an example. They only revive 10ks worth of benefits? You just make up your own facts.
        Many non doms are like holiday home owners contributing little to the local economy and using this countries property system and security for their own ends to the detriment of the country.
        I have come to the conclusion that you are just repeating deluded opinions of the super rich etc ed.

        • Ted Monbiot
          Posted February 4, 2015 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

          You would have to stop free movement of people and immigration for your plans to work Baz.
          Presumably you would let in poor people but not rich people.
          Can’t see that being legal under EU laws.
          Mind if Milliband gets in and taxes the rich even more then you will be satisfied when the rich all leave.

          • Bazman
            Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

            They come here and pay the same taxes as the poor or average no non doms scamming the tax system with offshore shell companies and the like using them to buy property and avoid taxes on them. Can they do this in their own countries? Why are the Russians here for example, and not the USA tax havens or any other European tax havens such as Luxembourg, Switzerland or Monaco. Have a think.

          • Ted Monbiot
            Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:30 am | Permalink

            They like it here.
            But they are also living in the countries you state and many other countries who offer a decent life.
            As usual you are mistaken.

          • Bazman
            Posted February 8, 2015 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

            Russians are living everywhere this is true, but why are the elite super rich and the middle classes, not to mention the others who would like to, living in London? You are not mistaken. You are wrong.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      A 1-0 victory awarded by the Standard to you this evening Mr Redwood. with the rider that you are looking to deter business leaders from getting involved in the in/out EU debate.

      With all that in your favour I’m surprised you were not listed as going places too. Nice exposure.

  3. Mark B
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Socialism, like the RoP, both were created by, and practiced for the benefit, of losers. Karl Marx was not a Millionaire or even a shopkeeper. So his attitude to business and markets were naturally skewed against, and believed that they should be controlled and regulated.

    The CEO of Boots, I believe, resides in Monaco and the main company is registered in Zug, Switzerland. Make of that what you like.

    As for business commenting on what is a political matter, I am of the opinion that, this is a matter between the electorate and those seeking office. It has nothing to do with business. The same is true I believe when it comes to the matter of the EU. If the UK can secure EEA Membership after Articel 50 negotiations, then business will have little or nothing to say on the matter as, their needs will have been met.

    Who the people of the UK choose to be their next government is their choice and responsibility. The same can also be said of any other supposedly democratic country. eg France.

    The French elected, Hollande and now they are regretting it. But they have the option to change. Once the EU becomes a fully functioning Federal State, we will no longer have that power, and the CEO of Boots will no longer have to worry himself on such matters.

    A point ot ponder, me thinks.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      “Karl Marx was not a Millionaire or even a shopkeeper” set me wondering how he kept body and soul together, and the answer seems to be that he sponged off the privileged son of one of the hated capitalist class:

      http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/bios/Marx.html

      “Most of his adult life, he relied on Engels for financial support.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Engels

      “Once Engels made it to Britain, he decided to re-enter the Manchester company in which his father held shares, in order to be able to support Marx financially, so that Marx could work on his masterpiece Das Kapital. Engels didn’t like the work but did it for the good of the cause.”

    • Stephen Berry
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      Marx was not a rich man, but his partner in crime, Engels, was an affluent Manchester capitalist who sent money to Marx frequently. Hence the old rib-tickler: Marx receives his regular letter from Engels, “Ah, Capital”, says Marx as he opens the envelope.

      Many rich and successful British businessmen over the last 200 years have been socialists or fascinated by socialism. Equally, many not so well to do people have supported capitalism and the free market. This idea that only losers support socialism is not born out by the facts and in fact, is rather Marxist in its attempt to pigeon hole people by their economic circumstances alone.

      Mr Pessina is head of a firm which is on virtually every high street in the UK. If he can’t comment on the economic effects of a future government, then who can? If a Labour leaning businessman wants to make points against the Conservatives, that’s fine too. To be honest, I am heartily sick of businessmen playing it safe and staying stumm for fear of offending this or that politician. Let’s face it, all politics is damaging to business, it’s just a matter of finding out who are the most damaging politicians and screaming blue murder.

      I would never think that Mr Pessina speaks for all Boots shareholders any more than I think that the head of this or that union speaks for all his members. But this has never stopped the union heads calling for political change and openly supporting a particular party.

      Yes, it could be that Boots would suffer if Labour got into power, but Boots will not be the only firm in that particular boat. By all means let the people make their decision in May, but they ought to know what the people who run the firms which provide their livelihood think.

      Reply Happy for Mr Pessina to say what he wants. I learn now that the company has clarified that he was not speaking for Boots, which was the point I was making.

    • libertarian
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Mark B

      So an organisation that pays 100’s of millions of pounds in tax should have no say in who why or how its collected or spent, interesting view on democracy

      Oh by the way Boots is now a US company HQ’d in USA. Where would you like a US company to put its HQ?

  4. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Plagiarism surreptitiously slips into all aspects of business and life.Academics regard it as something which only happens in the confines of scholarly work, yet what they write down has often been discovered by many others who do not choose to attempt to get their names in the cannons.Using a name for political leverage is similarly a type of plagiarism and if you look at articles and more recently tweets one will see writers explain that the views are their own and do not represent the organisation as a whole. Perhaps this angle should work in the Boots case .

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      They are surely his personal views (true perhaps his views given his extensive knowledge of the company) it is hardly plagiarism. After all a large company consists of perhaps thousands of people with perhaps thousands of conflicting views.

      • margaret brandreth-j
        Posted February 3, 2015 at 8:58 am | Permalink

        Yes but using it as Boots overall ethos is plagiarism.

      • margaret brandreth-j
        Posted February 3, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        The Universities are full of thousands of academics with their individual views yet only some get their work published as it fits in with the overall trend. See clearly and try and be logical instead of argumentative.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 3, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

          I see your point but I think you are stretching the word rather too far.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 3, 2015 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        The views of a person who does not pay tax in this country and runs a country that makes its profits here, but resides in Switzerland on which political party to vote for really just stick in the craw.
        The money he should be paying would pay for infrastructure hospitals and of course the deficit. Miliband is right to question the The 21 tycoon donors who bankroll the toff Tory party machine and anyone who questions this is just deluded. Labour being funded by the unions is not the same argument.

        • Ted Monbiot
          Posted February 4, 2015 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

          Presumably skillfully running a company that pays millions in taxes and employs tens of thousands of staff and millions more in rent rates vat NI and other tax duties is not enough for you Baz.
          If he were less successful his company would fail and all these current revenues to the Govt would be lost.

          Its your beloved EU that allows him freedom to choose his HQ country for tax purposes. The UK cannot tax him twice.

          If you lived part of the year away from the UK should you have to pay full taxes there too?

        • libertarian
          Posted February 9, 2015 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

          Bazman

          Thats interesting as when Carlos Ghosn CEO of Nissan said that the UK should not leave the EU, you where all over him in agreement. Except Carlos doesn’t reside in the UK and doesn’t pay UK tax either.

          Double standards from the lefties as normal

  5. John E
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I’m usually in favour of everyone having their say, but as far as I can tell Mr. Pessina is a resident of Monaco, so perhaps he should stay out of UK politics.
    He doesn’t live here, pays as little tax as possible here, but wants to tell us how to vote.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      He is surely perfectly entitled to his opinion and to express it, even if he lived on the Moon. People are also entitled to ignore it should they wish to.

      He is surely right to be concerned about the damage to Boots staff and other businesses and workers in the UK should the UK get idiotic Miliband and Balls quack economics after May 7th.

      I do not suppose he will personally suffer too much either way.

    • Jerry
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      @JohnE; If a company pays UK tax, even if a company doesn’t pay UK tax but employs UK nationals who pay UK tax, then were the CEO resides is irrelevant.

    • libertarian
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      John E

      His company pays over half a billion in UK taxes each year. I think he has every right to express an opinion and far more than the million or so people who contribute absolutely zero but get to vote purely because they live here

      Reply It is not his company. He needs to ask the views of the shareholders first. I see Boots have said he does not speak for the company on this matter – I rest my case!

      • libertarian
        Posted February 4, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply

        So JR you don’t think businesses should be able to comment on politics as businesses don’t get a vote despite the vast amount of taxes they pay. Interesting

        Reply That is not what I wrote or said. I said that a CEO of a large quoted company should express his or her views personally, as they do not speak for all the shareholders and employees.

  6. Jerry
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    “and now also ironically means dearer energy when world prices are falling.”

    Well yes that has been the spin that the Government put on Labours policy, on the other hand Labour seem to have been clear that it would not have prevented a fall in pricing, I guess we will never know as (I doubt) any Bill will ever be put in front of parliament.

    “By all means let’s hear from Mr Pessina as an individual with his anti Labour views, but let’s hear less from Boots.”

    Question, how should the media deal with such a intervention, after all if they lead their report “Mr Pessina says…” then many will be wondering who he is and if he is any better informed than Mr A.N.Other down the pub, if they lead their report “Mr Pessina, the current CEO of Boots, says…” then people; will know who he is even if they have never heard of him.

    “Labour now sees it as an opportunity to put the boot into Boots, as they are stung by the criticism. Neither Labour nor Boots will gain from these rows.”

    Leaving the rather poor pun aside, indeed they will not, after all are you not now putting the boot into both?…

    Off topic, if the media reports this morning are correct about EVEL/EVEN, whilst it is good that English MPs will be able to stop legislation etc that is bad for England it really is not good enough, almost a double negative as the devolved nations will be even stronger in some respects as they could conceivably sabotage such EVEL/EVEN legislation

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted February 4, 2015 at 12:00 am | Permalink

      “… Labour seem to have been clear that it would not have prevented a fall in pricing …”

      Labour’s threatened price freeze meant that the power companies bought futures at the going rate, which was high, further into the future than they might have done, in case they went even higher.
      Even though prices have now dramatically dropped, the companies are still receiving fuel that they bought at the higher price, hence prices to customers will reflect this and will remain higher than they would have been without Labour’s intervention.

      • Jerry
        Posted February 4, 2015 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        @Robert Christopher; You have seen the Energy Bill that Labour would have put in front of Parliament, or even just its draft, and not just the ‘spin’ (from what ever quarter)?

        The term “Price Freeze” is a very loose phrase and can mean many things, not just a totally locked price.

        “Even though prices have now dramatically dropped, the companies are still receiving fuel that they bought at the higher price, hence prices to customers will reflect this [..//..]”

        Well yes, the usual excuse, the fact that they are now buying on the futures market at a much lower price will soon get forgotten if and when oil prices go up again, hence the belief that energy prices go up like a rocket but come down like a feather… Why should customers, other than having very little choice about it, pay for what are basically poor investments by the company?

      • Bazman
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        You are laughably telling us we will now see price cuts in energy and bus fares in the future due to low prices now Chris?
        Do you actually pay for your own energy?

  7. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Much is made of “wealth creators” paying a larger proportion of the total tax take than at any time previously. I would be interested to know if this is because their proportion of the national income is greater than at any time previously. If this is the case is their contribution greater or lower as a proportion of their total income? This is the type of data which should be framing the debate not totals which of course change as circumstances change.

    If the wealth creators are paying a greater propotion of their income than before I thank them. If not then there is scope for an adjustment.

    Government finds it simple enough to target me for an increased proportional contribution, but then again PAYE is not a choice unlike the tax affairs of the wealth creators.

    Business will not move from this jurisdiction, it should pay more for the subsidies and infrastructure it enjoys.

    If government genuinely cannot raise further funding from non PAYE, VAT or duty sources it may like to consider actually cutting its expenditure rather than waiting for inflation to do the job for it. Government is too large.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Of course Government requires ever greater sums from its tax base to pay the subsidies for migrant workers and those Brits being kept out of work by imported labour as well as the extortionate membership fees for the EU. Simple cuts to make quickly.

      We can protect the cash sum that follows each pupil into a school but not inflation proof it because we don’t know how many additional migrant pupils there will be at six to seven grand a pop ( ten grand a pop in Tower Hamlets and Newham).

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      You say “Business will not move from this jurisdiction, it should pay more for the subsidies and infrastructure it enjoys.”

      The infrastructure in the UK is fairly dismal anyway. But Boots and many other companies have already moved HQ and parts of their business overseas already. Businesses have to move to the most competitive environments or they risk being out competed or bought out – they often have little choice.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted February 3, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        but Boots and many other companies have already moved HQ and parts of their business overseas already

        and that my dear LL is why the next government should introduce a turnover tax (non reclaimable unlike VAT) to even the field for all companies. do away with Corporation tax and charge on turnover delivered in this country.

        • libertarian
          Posted February 4, 2015 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

          Narrow Shoulders

          Only a deluded socialist could think of a thing like a turnover tax.

          1) That would smash businesses with high turnover/low profit margins ( i.e. anyone manufacturing or dealing in large capital equipment etc) Toyota, Honda, Tata etc would leave immediately

          2) Who do you think would pay the turnover tax? Er you would the customer

          Companies based in the UK and registered to trade in the UK pay UK taxes already. Boots is owned by Wallgreen a US company based in the US. Boots UK operation pays UK taxes. The overall holding company pays its taxes in the US.

          Some companies have used EU regulations to overcome this by basing themselves in Luxembourg ( Boots isn’t one of them) So the best way of stopping tax avoidance like that is to leave the EU

          • Jerry
            Posted February 7, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian; “Only a deluded socialist could think of a thing like a turnover tax.”

            I wonder what Mr Farage thinks about being called a “deluded Socialist”?!

            – [if elected, the Party] will set up a Treasury Commission to design a turnover tax to ensure big businesses pay a minimum floor rate of tax as a proportion of their UK turnover.

            Extract from the current policy page of their website, I won’t abuse Johns hospitality by posting a URL, or even naming the party as you all know who it is.

          • libertarian
            Posted February 8, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

            Jerry

            Farage is just deluded & like most politicians a bandwagon jumper with no principles trying to grab votes from the gullible, ignorant and naive. UKIP has a whole raft of socialist appealing manifesto promises, they are all going after the same vote. Anti business, anti wealth, anti job.

            The Conservatives are as bad. In Kent where I live the local tories have declared war on SME’s. Canterbury City Council has issued summons to 50 independent traders for wanting to pay their business rates monthly rather than in one up front cost.

            So Jerry are you in favour of a “turnover tax” ?

            It shows just how far out of touch with reality our politicians are. Offering to tax MORE heavily, car,ship, steel etc manufacturers . That’ll work won’t it.

            Here’s an idea, if you wish to stop multinational corporations “avoiding” tax, write better, simpler tax regulations without loopholes. Of course the elephant in the room is that belonging to the EU is actually what facilitates lots of manipulation of the tax system

          • Jerry
            Posted February 8, 2015 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian; “Farage is just deluded & like most politicians a bandwagon jumper with no principles trying to grab votes from the gullible, ignorant and naive.”

            Just as there are some rather deluded people who like call anyone and everyone else, whose opinions are not a clone of their own narrow views, a gullible, ignorant and naive“deluded Socialist” – ho hum…

            “So Jerry are you in favour of a “turnover tax” ?”

            Without seeing any detailed proposals I don’t have a foggiest and I doubt you do either, but lets not allow the detail to get in the way of a good libertarianism (laissez-faire capitalist) rant!

            “Of course the elephant in the room is that belonging to the EU is actually what facilitates lots of manipulation of the tax system”

            That would be why multinational corporations, operating outside the jurisdictions of the EU, “avoid” tax. Clue, companies and multinational corporations were “avoiding” tax well before the UK joined the old EEC, probably before the UK even applied to join. Not to mention that one of the reasons the tax code has tended to get ever more complicated over the years is due to HMT attempting to tie-off tax loopholes used for “avoidance”.

          • libertarian
            Posted February 9, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

            Jerry

            As you clearly have no clue about business or tax, you kind of prove my point.

            There’s NO SUCH thing as tax avoidance. You either pay tax within the rules or you don’t and if you don’t its illegal and punishable quite rightly .

            Before and outside the EU there is no way you could trade in the UK but pay VAT at a rate below the UK in Luxembourgh.

            That my friend is what the EU has allowed.

            The politicians created the “loopholes” most of which either aren’t loopholes at all, they were designed to be used in the way multinational corporations use them. Where an unintended loophole was created its up to government to close it. Just because you read it in the papers doesn’t make it true.

            Do you know what turnover means? How its calculated?

            Thought not.

          • Jerry
            Posted February 9, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian, as you clearly have no clue about the details of any possible implementation of a Turnover tax you kind of prove my point. I’m neither supportive or dismissive of such a tax at this point in time, my point was that your name calling rants are out of order until such time as the detail is known to such a proposed tax.

            Oh and yes I do understand what a turnover tax is, and that there are many variants, some of which are/have been used successfully. Also remember that Mr Farage’s base point is that the UK would not have to comply with EU tax laws and thus his government would have a much freer hand to change the whole tax system, including VAT for example.

          • libertarian
            Posted February 10, 2015 at 11:42 am | Permalink

            Jerry

            Those of us that ACTUALLY run businesses know EXACTLY what damage a turnover tax would do. Taxing business on turnover in any way shape or form would be a disaster for UK industry, would have NIL effect on multinationals businesses ( who are the ones you are trying to change) Typical law of unintended consequences from political types with no experience.

            The only EU tax law that could change on exit is UK Vat. Those businesses trading in Europe from the UK will STILL have to comply with EU tax law. As an example try checking out VATMOSS. These tax laws ALREADY apply to China, USA etc who last time I looked aren’t in the EU.

            What you need to understand is that mulinational businesses & businesses trading overseas have to comply with tax law in the country in which they operate as well as tax law here

          • Jerry
            Posted February 10, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

            libertarian; Yeah, like they also said that the NMW would cause countless bankruptcies…

            What you need to understand is that until we see the policy detail (heck we don’t even know at what sort of percentage such a UK turnover tax would be set, or what the starting point would be etc.) no one knows. end off, how ever much people like you SHOUT, and pound your keyboard whilst assuming that no one else bar yourself knows anything about anything…

            Also, it’s your sort of attitude that is turning far to many people to the left, parties such as the Greens really would damage business by excessive taxation etc.

          • libertarian
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 12:32 am | Permalink

            Jerry

            You don’t seem to understand that a turnover tax is just another name for sales tax and we ALREADY have one of those, its called VAT.

            http://www.out-law.com/articles/2012/november/new-turnover-tax-on-multinationals-is-not-the-answer-says-expert/

            If you don’t want to believe me read a tax expert. Meanwhile UKIP who branded themselves Libertarian 2 years ago are now a left of centre party just like all the rest.

            I’m flattered that you see that I have the power and influence to pursued people to join political parties

            I’ve never seen anyone say the NMW would cause bankruptcies , who said that? The NMW is a disaster for workers not business.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 3, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        Can’t be that dismal with the amount of profits they make. Are they doing us a favour by being here. Get real if you can. We are still waiting for your reply on KW and KW/h and have read your deluded posts on solar panels.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted February 3, 2015 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

        @LL

        £28 billion will be paid out this year in Working Tax and Child tax credits out of a total benefits bill of £167 billion (£114 billion of that is pensions).
        https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/benefit-expenditure-and-caseload-tables-2014

        That is quite some subsidy whatever the merits of our infrastructure (which I would contend is not too bad relatively (yes it could be improved but I have travelled extensively and UK is not terrible, nor should it be for what it costs us).

        Business could pay more either to its workforce or to its hosts.

    • libertarian
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      Narrow shoulders

      National income is the total value a country’s final output of all new goods and services produced in one year. Understanding how national income is created is the starting point for macroeconomics. Therefore the proportion of the national income generated by the wealth creators is 100%

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted February 4, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink

        Stretching a point there Libertarian. I am no socialist but those wealth creators would be rather stuffed without the labour market so it can not be entirely down to them. Even the lords of pushing paper to make money in high finance need their offices heated and cleaned.

        Can you answer the question of whether those wealth creators are paying more or less of a proportion of their own income in tax?

        My feeling would be that they are paying a greater amount of tax but at the same time keeping a larger percentage of their increasing pie.

        I have no facts with which to back up my feeling though hence the question.

        • libertarian
          Posted February 4, 2015 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

          Narrow Shoulders

          The wealth creators includes the workers who work in private enterprise so I agree that all workers contribute to wealth creation, thats why they get paid !!!

          Your question is extremely easy to answer their own income is taxed at the highest level at 45% income tax plus 2% NI plus 13.8% ENI

          So the answer is no matter how much they earn they are paying far more than half of it in taxes. If you add in all the other taxes like community charge etc etc then someone on higher end of scale is paying 62% of their income in taxes. By the way someone on basic rate is still paying 35% of their income in taxes.

          Your statement below

          “My feeling would be that they are paying a greater amount of tax but at the same time keeping a larger percentage of their increasing pie”

          Cannot ever be correct because tax is charged on a percentage of earnings so whether you earn £150k or £1.5m 62% of it will go to government.

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted February 5, 2015 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

            Tax is charged at those percentages of declared earnings not subject to reliefs @lib and I am pretty sure you know it.

            The question remains unanswered.

          • libertarian
            Posted February 5, 2015 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

            Narrow Shoulders

            Exactly its charged at a consistent rate for earned income after the very tiny reliefs available on high income. Any other form of money that attracts relief such as pensions or ISA’s ISN’T income. They are taxed at the full rate when they do become income, i.e. you draw on them

            Therefore the question you asked IS answered.

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted February 7, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

            Not really @lib

            One man’s relief is another man’s avoidance so the percentage of income that tax is paid on is a movable feast on which the wealth creators can choose how much to pay.

            We both know this so my question might be framed as: “Has the amount of relief claimed through self assessment increased as a percentage of self assessment income or decreased?

            Once that figure is known we could make some educated assumptions about the honesty and jurisdiction of declaration but that would be speculation whereas the reliefs claimed would be fact.

            I have no issue with risk takers being accruing large amounts of income so long as the amassing of that income is fair and open to anyone (able to raise the cash to take that risk).

          • libertarian
            Posted February 8, 2015 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

            Narrow Shoulders

            The relief to which I referred was the basic rate relief everyone gets. There is no other way to offset income. If you have money paid tax free into a pension then you pay the tax when you draw down. Tax is paid on all income so if your income is below £100k you get the basic relief £10k if your pay is over £120k you get no relief at all.

            There is no other way of avoiding income tax on your income other than to not get paid it. If you take benefits in kind instead then its entered on your P11d and you pay the tax on what it would have cost to earn. Company cars for instance

            The only other reliefs available are on charity donations where you get back the difference in proportion of tax you paid on the gift and what the charity got back in gift aid.

            You can get 10% relief on maintenance payments to a former spouse/partner

            If you are working on a ship at sea you may be eligible for seafarers relief.

            This whole “tax avoidance” thing is a nonsense myth, there’s no such thing. If you don’t pay the tax that the tax regulations insist you do then its “tax evasion” and thats a crime and should quite righty be punished by a criminal court.

            The problem is people get very confused over the tax situation and the various taxes.

            Individuals pay

            Income tax
            National insurance
            Capital gains tax
            IHT
            Stamp duty
            Vat on things they buy
            Community charge on their domestic property

            Businesses pay

            Employers National Insurance
            Corporation tax
            Stamp duty
            Business rates on commercial premises
            Vat
            Excise taxes duties, levys and licences
            capital gains tax

            There are certain reliefs available to businesses ( NOT individuals)

            Such as capital allowances
            Entrepreneur relief
            R & D tax credits

            These are legal reliefs mandated by government to encourage business to grow, invest and innovate

            Like most people you are trying to equate wealthy individuals with businesses. They are NOT the same thing at all. Though of course a lot of wealthy people earned their wealth by founding, growing and selling businesses.

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted February 10, 2015 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

            @Lib

            I disagree that I am equating the wealthy and big business as one.

            I, as a lowly PAYE serf, just want a tax code which requires all to pay against earnings, no loopholes, no undue reliefs. Flat tax rates on all declared earnings and an efficient way to measure those earnings. Capital gains by all means taxed at a lower tapered rate.

            If someone earns a lot they pay a lot of tax, I do not want them to pay more than is due just what is (morally) due.

            If a company earns substantial money in this country I think they should pay substantial tax in this country. I do not like one rule for one and another rule for others.

            In an ideal world public services would be paid at point of use but that will no happen, government will not get smaller so I would like to find a way for me to pay a little as possible (similar to you it seems).

            Turnover tax seems to be a way to catch corporates, I understand the law of unintended consequence but like Jerry above I would like to see the suggestions before dismissing the concept.

          • libertarian
            Posted February 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

            Narrow Shoulders

            People that work in big business pay income tax at the full rate

            shareholders in big business who live in the UK pay full rate income tax on their dividends

            A turnover tax is just another name for sales tax and it will be you and the little people who pay it so that is a very dumb way to try to achieve what you say you want

            We already have a turnover tax ( sales tax) its called VAT. Companies who trade in the UK pay vat. Companies who trade in the UK pay business rates on their premises. Companies who trade in the UK and employ local staff pay employers national insurance.

            That leaves corporation tax. CT is paid on the audited profit BEFORE shareholders dividends and is currently levied at 21%

            An American HQ company is forced by US tax law to pay its tax on profit in the US despite their trade here

            A British company trading overseas but HQd here pays their CT here not in the country they’re trading in. You must understand that each country has different tax regulations a multinational has to comply with all of them. ( the regs are actually far more complex than that of course)

            You can’t implement a UK tax system that fits the whole world therefore anything you implement that impacts British business has the potential for massive unintended consequences.

            So rather than screwing the entire British economy on the back of what you perceive to be moral ( whatever that means) you need to think about it quite heavily.

            Recently people with a similar argument to you got very animated about Amazon delivering digital download via Luxembourg because their VAT rates are cheaper. The EU politicians rushed thru a new tax regime now called VAT MOSS ( google it to find out how mad it is) which came into force in January 2015. So far 23,000 UK micro businesses have either closed or ceased trading in Europe due to this insane tax. However the hoi polloi are happy cos it stopped Amazon paying a bit less.

            With regards to my own tax arrangements despite the repeated tellings off from my accountants I stupidly pay far more tax than I need to. I don’t even have an ISA. The reason I can’t be bothered is that I’m not very fussed about money myself I just love being in business and creating stuff. I invest all my time and personal money in starting new businesses and there’s no real tax incentives other than SEIS schemes which have very strict parameters

      • Bazman
        Posted February 4, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        More apologist nonsense from text books you cannot understand.
        Where will this fit when they make profits and employ nobody and pay almost no taxes which is very much on the horizon as automation advances?
        Bad for business is what you are saying. Presumably the business of employing staff on zero hours contracts, ensuring wealth created by our high street shops is confined to a ever smaller band of super rich paying the lowest level of corporation tax they can get away with libtard?
        What in it for us remind me again? If nothing then why are they allowed to be here?

        • Edward2
          Posted February 5, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

          Because Baz, we like to buy their products.

        • libertarian
          Posted February 5, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

          Bazboid

          You are obsessed with zero hour contracts, yet you haven’t got a clue what they are. Just because someone has CHOSEN to work on a zero hour contract doesn’t say anything about how much they earn.

          Your ignorance knows no bounds Baz, there are only two levels of corporation tax, the lowest level is 20% on profits of £300k or less and its 21% on ALL profits over that.

          You are a very confused individual first you tell us shops won’t employ anyone due to automation THEN you tell us employees ( which you claim they haven’t got ) are on ZHC. Which is it?

          Almost no taxes? Really, tell you what Bazman don’t EVER try and run a business. Business rates on premises are 42p in the pound. VAT is 20% is on most goods and services sold.

          The super rich are in fact growing more numerous

          In the UK there were 719,657 millionaires up 44,000 on the previous year and the number of wealthy UK residents is growing at 8%

          • Bazman
            Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

            I wonder how many have ‘CHOSEN’ zero hours contracts? I mean was there a worse choice?!
            Maybe they CHOOSE other things such as to be poor of live in sub standard accommodation as a lifestyle CHOICE!
            The rich are growing more numerous due to these contracts and lax tax and employment laws. Why else are they?

          • Ted Monbiot
            Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:35 am | Permalink

            Yet over 97% are not on ZHC Baz so it cannot be correlated to the number of millionaires.
            They are incorrectly named contracts because those on them average over 20 hours per week.

          • libertarian
            Posted February 8, 2015 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

            Bazman

            My 20 year old son CHOSE a zero hour contract, he’s paid £10 per hour . Everyone CHOSE their own job, not ONE single person was FORCED to take a job on a zero hour or any other type of contract. If they don’t want to work on a ZHC they can get a full time temp job or a permanent contract job, they could work as a sole trader, freelancer or self employed. There are loads of options.

            The ONLY drawback to ZHC is to those long term unemployed who may lose their housing benefit if they take a job on a ZHC and then don’t get enough hours. The way around that should it arise is to take more than 1 ZHC now that exclusivity clauses rightly have been outlawed. Although I do think that DWP needs to be more flexible in order to get long term unemployed into full time work securely. However the workers also need to do better in this regard, as far too many workers coming into these jobs are unreliable, any idea how many workers don’t show up to work when offered the hours?

            Please give ONE example of how people get rich by employing someone on a zero hour contract.

            Zero hour contract workers have EXACTLY the same employment rights as all other workers you numpty.

            Lax tax law??? More than 200 new tax laws have been introduced by this government on top of the already gargantuan and complex tax laws imposed by Gordon Brown. Autoenrollment, VATMOSS, Income tax on employment related shares, above the line R&D tax credits are just SOME of the changes already this year.

            Bazman sitting at your free market computer slagging off business and business people who are the wealth and job creators without ever having tried it is the height of hypocrisy.

            Its really easy chap. If you want to employ unskilled workers, working 37 hours a week on £12 per hour with full entitlements fully funded pensions whilst paying 80% tax then why not do it? Why not start a business and show us all.

          • Bazman
            Posted February 10, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

            You are going to base your life on zero hours contracts and short term rent? As you say your son has his accommodation sorted out by you.
            They don’t show up as they have better things to do such as other work for better conditions. I have worked with on these contracts turn up for one shift and never again. I have also worked with some right deadbeats. These contracts attract these type of people. How many hours? Zero. Click. Beeeee! Thats me and millions of others of non desperate employees.
            No mortgage or debts equals zero zero hours contract. Why do you think that is. I am just Lazy?
            You want reliability loyalty and skills for as and when with low pay? Get real. Not from me thats for sure.
            Zero hour workers do not have the same rights firstly they are not guaranteed a set amount of hours you…………….. They are to have five zero hours contracts? Why do so many employers use them? Flexibility for themselves no the employee. Many shops/retailers, fast food chains and many more (eg left out ed)use these contracts and presumbly made a quid or so on them.
            You are looking for servants not workers with this deluded angle.

          • libertarian
            Posted February 12, 2015 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

            Bazbot

            What utter drivel

            1) my son pays he’s own rent
            2) Are you unable to comprehend? Less than 5% of workforce on zero hours
            3) Of those on ZHC more than 80% do more than 20 hours a week
            4) Single parents, students & semi retired WANT to work on ZHC

            5) The flexible working directive part of the package of workers rights from the EU was what gave workers the right to flexible working

            Zero Hour Contract workers have EXACTLY The same rights as all other workers, NO workers are guaranteed any hours
            Less than 11% of employers use ZHC, the biggest single employer offering ZHC is HM Government.

            The Labour party and the Trade Unions ALL employ people on ZHC

            You really do not have the remotest clue about the world of work, no wonder you are still earning the same as you earned 20 year ago, you haven’t learned anything, you’re oblivious to the world around you. Cant assimilate facts no matter how many independent sources are shown to you.

            You haven’t ( because you can’t) explained how wealthy people make money from zero hour contracts

  8. alan jutson
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    We do not hear much from the CBI or the TUC these days.

    Are the beer and sandwich meetings not held any more.

    Likewise the monthly Balance of Trade figures seem to have gone missing (or need to be kept under wraps) in recent decades.

    How politics have changed, under the captivity of the spinners of media management.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      The balance of trade figures are dreadful. The less we hear from the EURO/ERM enthusiasts at the CBI the better.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/10427783/Britain-to-have-worst-2014-trade-deficit-in-industrial-world-on-EU-forecasts.html

      • outsider
        Posted February 3, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        Dear Lifelogic, If the EC projection is correct, the UK is consuming 4 per cent more than it is producing. As Mr Redwood has pointed out, this has to be paid for, increasingly by selling UK assets (including Boots) to foreign companies and often losing the future profits and tax.
        Mr Pessina gained control of Boots in two stages, transferred its tax domicile to Switzerland and latterly merged it into Walgreen of Chicago, now probably the world’s biggest pharmacy company.
        Mr Redwood rightly criticises his corporate intervention but the reality is that the voice of business, whether individual or through the CBI, is increasingly the voice of foreign investors, on whose decisions the future of the UK economy now rests.
        Worth noting, perhaps that the Labour Government appears to have made no objection to Boots moving to Switzerland in 2008 with the consequent heavy loss of UK tax revenue. Mr Pessina’s personal tax affairs are minute by comparison.

    • Jerry
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      @alan jutson; “We do not hear much from the CBI or the TUC these days.”

      Well if you wait for the MSM then indeed, but in this age it has never been more easy to hear it from the horses mouth, both the CBI and TUC have websites.

      • alan jutson
        Posted February 4, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        Jerry

        Aware the figures are available, but no longer do politicians seem to want them discussed or be out in the open.

        No surprise why.

  9. Leslie Singleton
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Dear John–Beware over-egging your pudding on this. I for one think it a jolly good idea that Business should speak out and who else should do this but Chief Executives? Besides I didn’t notice that the Boots CE said he was talking on behalf of his company. I haven’t looked but I doubt Boots’ share price has suffered. If Labour get damaged by the personalised drivel that they have responded with that’s jolly good too.

  10. petermartin2001
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    What most businesses, and presumably Boots are no exception, would like is to see a healthy demand for their goods and services. They want paying customers, with money to spend in their pockets.

    They aren’t going to get that if their customers don’t have a job, or are in some poorly paid job. Or even a non-job like a zero hour contract which gives them employment for zero hours! Just about every town in Britain has boarded up pubs, cafes and and shops, and also unemployed youngsters hanging around those closed down businesses . That should give common ground for the political parties which traditionally would be expected to represent business and those who may traditionally represent those looking for some work.

    Of course its less like this in some areas than others. It’s not as bad in Wokingham as it is in Middlesbrough. Is it that there’s nothing that needs doing in Middlesbrough? The phrase full employment isn’t much used these days. There’s a general acceptance, among Labour and Tory politicians alike, that the term full employment cannot apply any more. It’s even worse in Euroland. The remedy for any economic problem invariably involves cuts and more taxes. The Labour party are offering nice fluffy socially responsible cuts. Whereas the perception is that that Tory cuts, if freed from any LibDem interference, would be more severe.

    No-one on either side has the courage to question the conventional wisdom that budgets can be balanced by increasing taxes and reducing spending. It’s obvious they cannot. It’s should be obvious that this is the economic equivalent of a dog chasing its own tail. There is no evidence in the slightest that this approach has ever worked or will ever work. There’s lots of evidence that it closes down businesses and deprives the former employees of work though.

    It’s in the interest of both business and labour to challenge this failed concept. It shouldn’t be a left/right issue. It should be one that unites everyone.

    • libertarian
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      Petermartin 2001

      This obsession with zero hour contracts without even understanding what the concept means is silly. There are less than 5% of workforce on zero hour contracts. That means that 95% are NOT on zero hours. Single parents, students and semi retired workers LIKE zero hour contracts as it enables them to do ad hoc work. No one is forced to take a zero hour contract job, if they dont want one. There are plenty of full time jobs available. The average UK salary has now risen to £27k pa

      Youth unemployment is 25% in Middlesborough ( the highest in the country ) The 16 -24 age group numbers 20,000 in Middlesborough thats 5,000 unemployed. There are currently 6200 job vacancies in Middlesborough only 130 of which are zero hour contracts

      • petermartin2001
        Posted February 4, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        I think we are probably in agreement that students, single parents and others who prefer to work intermittently should be able to do so. It can suit them , it can suit their employer. I cannot see any problem with a flexible working pattern.

        The main problem of ZHCs arises, but there are others too IMO, when that employer requires exclusivity. If they are not offering work that particular week, why not let the employee work elsewhere? If there is no guarantee that work will be offered, why should the employer expect, usually at very short notice, the employee to appear for work on the occasions that it is?

        • libertarian
          Posted February 5, 2015 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

          Petermartin

          We’re fairly much in agreement. Exclusivity on ZHC were banned as of last November and ALL previous contracts asking for exclusivity where nulled. However as it was Vince Cable that drafted the law its a bit of badly drafted legislation and could do with tightening up

  11. oldtimer
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    The post WW2 record amply demonstrates that Labour governments are bad for business. If the next government is formed by Mr Miliband nothing will change in this respect.

    Re Mr Pessina it seems to me that he is entitled to comment, as the CEO of Boots, on the impact a Labour government might have on the business for which he is responsible. As, apparently, he is a Monaco resident, he can expect to take some flack from those he criticises. CEOs who are UK voters, resident here and, even more convincingly, are owners of their their own business would be more persuasive advocates of the case he makes. What business leaders need to understand, and acknowledge, is the primacy of the UK electorate – at least until all business matters are swallowed by the EUrocracy which seems to be the aim of big business and the CBI.

  12. acorn
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    We are now in the “regulated” period for GE campaigning under Electoral Commission (EC) rules. Boots’ CEO is acting as a “Non-Party Campaigner”. The latter has spending limits (£20,000 in England). If the rules were any good the EC would put an imputed price on the media coverage Boots has obtained and automatically call for all politically connected spending by the company, in the GE regulated period.

    But they won’t; because the rules were changed by the Conservative party (Transparency of Lobbying, Non Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014) so that the likes of Boots’ CEO can get away with it. It is alleged that he actually lives in tax haven Monaco!

  13. English Pensioner
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    “If you don’t like the message, shoot the messenger”
    Not a word from Labour refuting the message, just attacks on the messenger, which to me suggests that there is no valid answer to his criticism.
    Incidentally, Boots is now wholly owned by Walgreens, probably the world’s biggest pharmaceutical retailer, which has facilities in numerous countries, so attacking the man by suggesting he should live in the country where the company is based and not Monaco, means that he should live in the US!
    Boots still have some manufacturing facilities in this country apart from the pharmacies, but as in the case of Cadburys, also taken over by a US company, such facilities could easily be moved to one of Walgreen’s plants elsewhere if the UK business climate deteriorated. It is of interest that the other major pharmacy chain, Lloyds Chemists is now owned by a German company.
    I still await to hear from Labour as to why they think he is wrong, but somehow I doubt if we will.
    Personally I would prefer to learn from our politicians why all our companies are being sold out to foreign competitors; is it because of the business climate in the UK and if so, what are they going to do about it?

    Reply All the time we run a balance of payments deficit we need to sell assets to balance the accounts.
    There also have been tax advantages for some US companies making foreign purchases which has been a matter of controversy in the USA.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      “All the time we run a balance of payments deficit we need to sell assets to balance the accounts.”

      Those assets are generally gilts. ie Treasury bonds. The pounds that are used to buy imports can end up in the central banks of the big exporters and they are then exchanged for gits.

      The sale of gilts raises the value of the pound which makes imports more affordable than home produced goods. So there is always a dilemma for government. Should they raise the value of their currency by selling gilts, keeping imports cheap and affordable? Like the UK and USA Or should they depress the value of their currency to boost their export industries? Like Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, China?

      We can’t have it both ways. There’s no point in calling for “export led growth” if we are selling gilts and doing what we can to increase the value of the pound on the foreign exchange markets. But we can decide. Do we want to be a net importer with a high pound or a net exporter with a lower pound?

      Reply Selling gilts pays for the government’s deficit, not the balance of payments private sector deficit.

      • petermartin2001
        Posted February 4, 2015 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        Reply to Reply

        That’s an interesting question. Looked at from the POV of government it does indeed appear that way. But looked at from the POV of, say, the Bank of China, they are selling gilts/US Treasuries back to the British and US governments, primarily to get a small amount of interest which we shouldn’t begrudge them, but also to recycle their unspent pounds and dollars back into circulation into the UK and US economies so their customers can continue to purchase more Chinese products.

        So, I would argue that the two deficits are linked and cannot be considered independently. The private sector can only change that linkage if it borrows and spends the money itself from somewhere, and that can only be a temporary change. The money flow in an economy is similar to the flow of electricity in an electrical circuit, so circuit theory applies in a similar way.

        • petermartin2001
          Posted February 4, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

          correction: That should be the Bank of China buying gilts/US Treasuries from the UK and US govt…..

  14. Richard1
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    The anti business anti success rhetoric of many politicians is very damaging. Even the estimable Sajid Javed flunked a rather silly question from Andre Neil asking whether its a good thing that executive pay has gone up c 45% or so under the coalition. The right answer of course is the govt does not set executive pay in a free society, companies do. (The Swiss model of shareholder approval for pay is the right one). If executive pay has risen because corporate profits have risen that’s a healthy sign. If its because executives area extorting non market pay levels from their owners its a bad thing.

    Meanwhile the increasingly leftist President Obama is doing what he can to hold back the US. Its a good thing the US president has limited powers and the shale gas revolution has proceeded in spite of Obama. Now he wants to expropriate cash balances from companies. He should reflect that Magna Carta – much praised in the US though ignored in the UK – was written precisely to avoid this kind of behaviour by the king / president. No doubt freedom loving Americans, Republicans and sensible Democrats, will block this latest silly move by Obama. What a failure he has been!

  15. ian
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    They all the same, thick.

    The terror laws are for general population, so they feel safe when the time comes

  16. Mitchel
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    The comment was ill-judged but hasn’t this man already sold Boots to the Americans?…. he may well be thinking of the implications of a Labour government for his next adventure etc ed

    • Richard1
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Mr Pessina merged his business with Boots and so is now a large shareholder in the combined business. Boots is a very successful company – apparently it now even pays more tax than it did as a listed business. This shows that we should not fret about who owns businesses in the UK but rather about whether the UK is an attractive investment climate for entrepreneurs like Mr Pessina to invest and grow businesses. If it is we will all benefit. If, like Mr Miliband, we wish to make bogeymen of successful investors and business people then the UK will not be a climate in which anyone wants to grow businesses and we will all be poorer. Tax revenues will be lower and public services worse.

      • petermartin2001
        Posted February 4, 2015 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        Boots is a very successful company – apparently it now even pays more tax than it did as a listed business.

        Apparently? Well that’s OK then!

        Is there a reason to “fret” about ownership of the country’s land, farms and industry? There could be. If owners of UK businesses feel no loyalty towards this country they will be more inclined to do whatever it takes to pay as little as possible in tax and as little as possible to the workers they employ. If they can increase their profits by bringing in overseas workers for lower wages, they will. Why wouldn’t they?

        Maybe I’m being naive in thinking that British owners would behave in a more socially responsible manner. Possibly, but I’d hope not

  17. majorfrustration
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Off topic but. Did anybody here Jim the Scot on BBC Today saying “when labour win the next election”
    But Hague this morning is just leading us to a major downfall. If all English MPs are allowed to vote initially on English topics but then find that at the final stage the generality of MPs are allowed to vote on English issues – then whats fair about that? Stand by for some major civil disorder. Its got to be seen to be fair – not the usual political fob off. Its now 2015 and the old days from 1945 onwards when the voters were taken advantage of are long gone – but does Westminster understand?

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      David Cameron speaking at the Conservative Party conference, 1st October 2014:
      “But here’s my vow to the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

      I know the system is unfair.

      I know that you are asking: if Scotland can vote separately on things like tax, spending and welfare….

      ….why can’t England, Wales and Northern Ireland do the same?

      I know you want this answered.

      So this is my vow: English votes for English laws – the Conservatives will deliver it.”

      Perhaps our host will give us his honest assessment tomorrow if this is yet another of cast iron Dave’s broken promises ?

    • The PrangWizard
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, is the betrayal many of us have been expecting, and forecasting. Let’s see what is said tomorrow. It had better be good.

  18. Roy Grainger
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Of course those in the Tory Party highlighting and agreeing with Mr Pessina’s view in the media will also be invited to agree with him when he comes out strongly in favour of UK staying in the EU should a referendum ever happen. They can’t have it both ways.

    • Richard1
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Sure you can agree with somebody on one thing but not another.

  19. A different Simon
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    “Labour regards business as …. the agent that must be made to remedy social problems which others might think the government should fix.”

    Very good point and one I have often wondered about myself .

    Here are two examples :-
    – Labour seem to think companies should take responsibility for vocational pensions .

    Don’t they understand that companies , like business opportunities are of a transient nature ; here today and gone tomorrow thus totally unsuited to providing for the needs of their employees beyond their end of service ?

    The Govt has completely abdicated it’s responsibility / derelicted it’s duty when it comes to ensuring people (other than it’s own workers) have access to a livable pension .

    – Labour wanting to saddle energy companies with obligations to ensure houses are insulated .

    I’m not for a minute defending some of the measures companies go to to avoid paying tax but it’s the Govt’s job to close those loopholes .
    Unfortunately they get this wrong by seeking to add more complexity than simplify it .

    Business is not going to come here whilst Labour treat profit as a dirty word .

    I think it comes from assumption that success in business is a given and that money grows on trees .

    • JoeSoap
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      NEVER FORGET
      The Tories had an opportunity to remove the dreaded NEST nannying pension savings system set up by Labour and the Tories kept it…. a total mess. Why should I have to get involved in my employees’ savings for 40 years’ time?

      They had an opportunity NOT to knock contribution limits to 1/6th of those allowed by Labour and NOT reduce the lifetime limit for those who, by and large, have to pay for this NEST mess, but they chose to cut them further than even Labour dared….

      We have nannying socialists all around us, propped up by our hardworking SMEs.

  20. behindthefrogs
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    If we can get round the problem of companies hiding their profits in low tax countries, there is a very strong case for increasing corporation tax. The tax raised should be used directly to proportionally reduce companies’ NICs. This has a number of advantages.
    1) It helps the cash flow particularly of smaller companies.
    2) It helps to increase employment.
    3) It reduces the cost and so increases the competiveness of our exports,
    4) It increases the competiveness of home produced products and services against imports.

    In fact reducing employers’ NICs is vital for the future of the country’s economy.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted February 3, 2015 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Corporation tax is just a brake on investment. Distributed profits carry income tax anyway. Why should an SME pay Corporation tax on profits which are re-invested in the business and will normally provide more employment ?
      Why not cut Corporation tax and incorporate NI into a simple income tax system? More people would work longer, for lower gross wages, which would make us more competitive as well.

  21. BeeCee
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I am afraid the Mr Miliband, and by association his advisers, demonstrably suffers from the syndrome known has ‘speaking before the brain is in gear’.

    It seems to be a ‘disease’ which is contracted as soon as a front bench appointment is gained.

    Very worrying.

  22. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I don’t believe the Acting CEO of a company selling contraceptives and lip-gloss will cause a political earthquake.

  23. Cliff. Wokingham.
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    This incident is more akin to the school playground than the political sphere.
    I think there are many points which arise from this incident and I’ll try to be brief.

    It seems odd that Mr Milliband does not want this person to have an opinion because he doesn’t pay UK tax, but Mr Milliband is happy for unelected, non UK tax payers to have opinions via the EU….I would point out that the main difference is that the EU CAN dictate policy which, Boots the Chemist cannot.

    The left have played a blinder in convincing the country’s population that the rich and wealth creators are bad; The politics of envy. They have managed to cloud the distinction between tax avoidance (legal) and tax evasion (illegal) but, people need to ask, Who makes the rules? The politicians make the rules and if they were serious about stopping tax avoidance, they could do something about it.
    I would suggest that the likes of Mr Milliband and the luvvies at the BBC are free to pay a greater share of their income to HMRC, or good causes, should they chose to do so; lead by example!

    All people and businesses are taxed too highly in this country, whether that is through income tax, VAT, Inheritance tax, NI, corporation tax which are all “upfront taxes” or the more sneaky taxes such as the green levy, fuel duty, insurance premium tax, various fines imposed by regulators for minor technical breaches of some over complicated regulations, businesses paying for free insulation or refunds for poorer customers etc…….It seems to me that, at some point in the near future, Labour and the left will kill the golden goose and we shall all be much poorer as a result but, perhaps that’s what the left want because, they don’t appear to want to improve the lot of the poor, but merely drag the rich down to punish them for being rich or successful.

    We have become a very nasty nation recently and I am not living in the same country which I grew up in. I feel sad and fearful for the young if our decline continues.

  24. Atlas
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    A point well put, John.

    Really, shareholders should regain control of their companies – an idea that frightens a few in the ‘remuneration committee’ cartel.

  25. formula57
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    So Miliband says ““I don’t think people in Britain are going to take kindly to being lectured by someone who’s avoiding his taxes on how they should be voting in the UK general election.”,(words removed ed)

    As for business people commenting in their business capacities, I think they should but ought to confine their remarks to the impact on their businesses or business generally of the policies they alight upon rather than giving recommendations to voters (so commenting more as knowledgeable informants to illuminate rather than as advocates to press a cause). That way, the locus of their interest is both clear, reasonable and legitimate and they do not risk becoming politicians, thereby to involve themselves and their companies in party politics.

  26. JoeSoap
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    The position is quite clear.

    Is Mr Pessina a Director with Director’s responsibilities and liabilities in the UK? If so, he has every right to challenge any changes in his circumstances which he perceives would increase his potential liabilities in that role. In that case one could and perhaps should argue that Mr Pessina deserves a vote here.

    If he has no contingent personal liabilities in his position, then his arguments are all about how Boots might be affected, and his opinions should count no more than any other citizen of Monaco.

  27. acorn
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Are Conservatives irrelevant in the 21st century? It looks like it in Australia.

    “It’s early days, but what seems apparent at first blush is that increasingly, Australians don’t care for the conservative method of governance. In general, we don’t take to entitled, privileged bullies fattening themselves and their besties at the taxpayer trough while simultaneously stripping us of public assets, and grinding into the dirt those who can least afford any further grinding. Unrestrained self-interest does not go down well with the Australian public, it would seem. Neither do we take to blatant liars in our governments, nor to arrogant, dismissive leaders who think power means they never have to explain, and account for their actions.” (The AIM Network, Australia.)

  28. DaveM
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    OT – From the BBC:

    “MPs from all parts of the UK would be entitled to take part in the final Commons vote passing the Bill into law”. So not EVEL/I/N at all then.

    “Mr Hague’s plan would give an effective veto to MPs for English seats – and Wales on some policies – for matters decided in the Scottish Parliament, but would still require a majority of all UK MPs to pass legislation.” So no real change then.

    “Mr Hague said the Commons Speaker would probably have the job of deciding which measures should be treated as England only.” Probably??!!!!!!!!! Are you kidding?

    Etc. Etc. Etc.

    Negative veto only. No serious change. A con. A fudge. Is this the best he can come up with in 4 months? Does he think all 55 million of us are totally stupid?

    Total. Utter. Treacherous. Betrayal. I feel disgusted and angry. At least your contribution in the DT was onside Mr Redwood, thank you.

    • William Gruff
      Posted February 4, 2015 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      DaveM:

      Does he think all 55 million of us are totally stupid?

      I’d say so. The only way to convey that you aren’t is to vote for some candidate other than the Conservative and Unionist Party stooge.

  29. Bazman
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Would anyone like to defend OFGEM’s point the people should save money for their bills by taking a packed lunch instead of tackling the big six energy firms on their failure to lower bills?
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2937553/Struggling-heating-costs-Eat-packed-lunch-save-money-pay-bills-says-energy-regulator-Ofgem.html
    My supplier will be kicked into touch soon for failure to lower bills and the game of musical chairs will continue. The house is cheap to run anyway no hair shirt for me due to green nonsense measures taken by by me 12 years ago, but thats not the point.
    I am on the ‘1 Year Fixed’ price as opposed to the ‘1yr Fixed Price’ which is an historic plan and is more expensive. An historic plan? Like D day was?
    When asked why they do not automatically move anyone to the cheapest plan instead of their ‘Standard Tariff replied that they did not know how much energy I would be using. Take a look at last years usage was met with silence.
    If OFGEM cannot tackle this then what is the point of them?
    Defend that if you can and I know some of you want to as you will defend anything by business. Good job I’m not old weak or infirm in some way. Still time yet and I may just get lazy.
    No I won’t they will play be some rules even if they are their own.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 4, 2015 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      Maybe someone could tell me how this is Labours fault and any suggestion by me that this is somehow not OK is just jealous ant business socialist sentiment on my part and I should just pay up the standard tariff and be happy. I have energy as many in the third world do not with not even have lunch, packed or otherwise? Cheers Guv. Cough! Hack! We are so lucky to have these services.

      • Edward2
        Posted February 5, 2015 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        Enjoy the freedom of choice Baz.

        Instead of trying to deal with a State monopoly you can choose between dozens of supplier and tariffs.
        A few minutes on the computer each year and money saved.

        PS Green energy suppliers are available. A little dearer of course but I presume this will not bother you as saving the planet from burning I know is a priority for you.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 5, 2015 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

          Ah! How naive we are. Many comparison sites are involved in hidden commissions to energy companies just to make it more complicated. They say they still help. So that makes it OK then?
          If a state monopoly provided cheaper energy then who would care about smoke and mirrors designed to hide high prices and as for green energy. Is there any?

          • Edward2
            Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

            Just choose the best overall deal for yourself .
            Are you not capable of doing that?

            You manage to to that with cars and food and items for your home as you often inform us.

            Energy prices are falling so the end of one fixed price deal should an opportunity to save the Baz household some money.

          • Bazman
            Posted February 7, 2015 at 10:47 am | Permalink

            That what I do, but its not all about me. What about the ones who are to old, weak or vulnerable in some way. In debt and stuck on the highest tariff paying by rip off cards?
            Smoke and mirrors pricing by any group of companies whether it be phones or energy are to confuse and bamboozle the customer to hide prices.
            It would be interesting to see what their prices would be if a supplier came along and undercut them by a large margin using solar, wind or wave power.
            How many would be screaming that they are unfair competition as they have ‘free’ energy and need to be taxed more. It already happening in Australia with solar.

  30. Ted Monbiot
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    I think he has very real duty to warn what a negative effect an even higher taxes, higher spending, higher borrowing and wasting Labour Government would have on his company, its employees and its shareholders should we be stupid enough to vote them in.
    Labour’s big State, pro EU, pro ever more anti business laws and red tape, will bring the UK down to the levels of the Eurozone.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 5, 2015 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      Maybe some taxes on his company to pay for services it uses mighty be good after all he and you would be first to tell us you can’t ave owt for nowt.

      • Edward2
        Posted February 5, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        Services…
        Water Gas Electric..all paid for by the company
        Roads…fuel duties and road fund licences and operators licences.
        Buildings…paid for by rents and council taxes
        Employers National Insurances paid to help fund benefits and pension.
        Employees pensions contributions paid to the benefit of their staff by the company.
        Corporation tax paid by the company.
        VAT paid by the company
        Income tax paid by all the company employ.
        Stamp duty on shares bought and sold
        Insurance premium tax paid.

        Please sir, can we keep just a bit of the money we generate for us.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 5, 2015 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

          These are operating costs paid by any company to generate profits. Not taxes on the profits. They keep almost all of this and this is the point lost on you. Though many avoid taxes by claiming they do not make profits in a profitless ponzi scheme.

          Reply The issue is not normally one of avoiding all taxes, but where the profits are earned and therefore which country’s taxes they have to pay. A multinational business can choose where to incur its costs. Where it makes its profits is partly the result of these choices, and partly the result of the accounting requirements placed on a company by the various jurisdictions it operates in. A company may well find itself in a position where two countries disagree about where it made profits, when the company is trying to give an honest account of its affairs. You do not seem to grasp that many large companies are run by salaried executives who wish to avoid mistakes/challenges from tax collecting governments.

  31. Matt
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Just got an e-mail from the leader of the house asking me to sign a petition in support of his version of EVEL. Doesn’t seem to be that it goes far enough, so I’m not sure I will.

  32. Newmania
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Hem hem…Mr Redwood , fascinating as you always are on any subject I am rather looking froward to your comments on today`s announcement that the English are to remain second class voters. Of course one sees the difficulty with an election so close but still, I am , shall we say , ever so slightly miffed . In fact I am reminded of what a local UKIP chap once said to me about Conservatives like me behaving like an battered wife …..always finding an excuse to go back when it is clear they should simply leave

    Reply I set out my views on the best way to tackle justice for England and have not changed my mind since then!

    • William Gruff
      Posted February 4, 2015 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply:

      The best way to ‘tackle justice for England’ is to vote for it, which means not voting Conservative. All that can do is encourage those with whom we are unhappy to think that they can continue to sell us a pig in a poke.

  33. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted February 3, 2015 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    As I write I hear the now LORD Rose has entered the fray. The former M&S Chief as I recall was pro-active in advocating a Conservative government some time ago. Within months and after a good showing by the Tory Party, M&S staff in Britain were made redundant. M&S staff in Germany however kept their jobs despite receiving higher wages and conditions.

  34. angela deakin
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    I will NOT be shopping at Boots again – or any other business that tries to influence voters and tries to get involved in politics. I hope others will likewise stop using Boots Chemist and teach businesses a lesson – keep out of politics

    • libertarian
      Posted February 5, 2015 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Angela

      Why shouldn’t business get involved in politics? Politics sticks its nose into business. The average business pays more in tax in a day than you pay in a lifetime. Business provides jobs from which you and others earn money to buy stuff. Nearly every big business lobbies government and government spends lots of time talking to business so if you are true to your threat you won’t be buying much

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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