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Tuesday 5th
posted by Morning Star in Features

The Panama papers show politicians have stopped representing ordinary people and chosen to serve the interests of powerful corporations and the wealthy, says RABBIL SIKDAR

THE truth has been revealed, laid bare naked for all to see.

Except there isn’t anything entirely surprising about it. Rather it’s a surprise that it took this long to be fully sure.

The Panama Papers leak has informed us what we have always known: the rich and powerful are in it for themselves.

Documents from a Panama law firm called Mossack Fonesca have revealed 40 years of tax avoidance that has gone untouched and unreported. Eleven million documents have revealed a network of secretive companies that have established themselves in offshore tax havens.

A network of powerful rich individuals and leading politicians, including the Iceland PM, have been exposed. David Cameron’s father has also appeared in the list of names. Some 143 politicians have been exposed in this leak and of them 12 are national leaders.

There is a $2 billion trail that traces all the way to Vladimir Putin. His complicity in this corruption is huge — through patronage, his friends and family have been involved in hiding large sums of money taken from state banks in offshore banks.

There are politicians, past and present, from all around the globe drawn into this.

Debate will follow as to what can be done about this but co-operation between states to aggressively clamp down on tax avoidance is a non-negotiable starting point for any course of action.

The global free market is such and the mobility of money means that a single state cannot tackle tax avoidance themselves.

Corporate corruption has long been charted on the political agenda as a growing issue, but it’s time politicians and journalists in the corporate media accept openly that this is a massive threat.

Corporations as high-profile as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Starbucks have avoided hundreds of billions in tax around the world.

Bankers who brought the world to an economic standstill have continuously sucked in bonuses and dodged taxes: a second lease of life provided by beaten-down taxpayers was still not enough to change their ways.

And now the revelation that comes with Panama — not that corruption exists, but how deep it runs in the structures of power.

Global tax-dodging on an industrial scale is a threat to the economies of countries affected. In an age of growing inequality, the gap between the rich and poor has ballooned because the wealth of those at the top simply has not been regulated.

Now is the time for the Labour leadership to apply huge pressure on the Tories to be serious about clamping down on tax avoidance. Sweetheart deals with Google and others have shown how little our government cares.

But there is a simple point that Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and co can make — this is more than just a threat to our economy. It’s an assault on democracy. When politicians are involved in such corruption it speaks of the consuming power of the global free market where politicians have stopped representing ordinary people and chosen to serve the interests of powerful corporations and wealthy individuals.

They’ve served the pie to the rich and decided to also take a slice of it for themselves. When they are so engrossed in this mentality, when they are deeply complicit in the corporate corruption running rampant around the globe, how can they be expected to represent the views of ordinary people?

What happens to our democracy when politicians become two sides of the same filthy coin? In an age when workplace democracy and living standards have rapidly deteriorated, the threat to autonomous functioning democracy