Robin Hood has been all over the UK and Scottish news this week after SCIAF Chair Cardinal O’Brien ambushed David Cameron and branded his failure to back a Robin Hood Tax in the UK as ‘immoral’, highlighting that this tiny tax could bring in £20billion every year in the UK to fight poverty at home and around the world. Speaking to the BBC Cardinal O’Brien said:
“My message to David Cameron, as the head of our government, is to seriously think again about this Robin Hood Tax, the tax to help the poor by taking a little bit from the rich… It is not moral, just to ignore them and to say 'struggle along', while the rich can go sailing along in their own sweet way."
Andrew Marr then asked the PM for his reaction - but Mr Cameron fudged the issue by claiming that he understands what it’s like for people trying to balance their weekly budgets, and that his policies help low-income households.
There followed debates about the Robin Hood Tax on Sunday Politics Scotland and BBC News 24, and SCIAF followed up with interviews including Scotland’s Real Radio and BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme. We also hit the front page of The Herald and the editorial leader column rang out with support: ‘Cardinal’s tax plea deserves backing’. The story also gained coverage in The Times, The Scotsman, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post with more stories across the web.
All this buzz about the Robin Hood Tax has been great, and has put David Cameron’s refusal to back the tax under the spotlight. A recent poll found 62% of people in Scotland backed the tax, and more than 6,000 actions calling for a Robin Hood Tax in the UK have been taken by SCIAF supporters alone. The Prime Minister now knows that Scotland is demanding action. Everyday people want to see Cameron put a Robin Hood Tax in place.
As Cardinal O’Brien joins the long and growing list of high-profile figures who support a Robin Hood Tax - from Bill Gates to Desmond Tutu, as well as more than a thousand leading economists - more and more people are asking why Cameron is passing up this opportunity. I took on the Adam Smith Institute on BBC Radio Scotland on Monday morning - and have since had phone calls and emails from people across the country asking me how they can join the campaign. (You can take the SCIAF action for a Robin Hood Tax here.)
It’s great that the media have taken such an interest in the campaign this week. We need to make sure that we keep up the pressure on David Cameron. The people of Scotland have been questioning for a long time whether this government is listening to them. SCIAF and many others now hope that he takes note, realises how isolated he is, and puts the Robin Hood Tax in place.
Alexis Barnett is Campaigns Officer at SCIAF.