Saturday, August 2, 2008

Better Late Than Never - A Windfall Profits Tax

This week we had two major oil companies declaring extra high profits, Shell and Exxon. Exxon actually set a record high profit in the US for all industries, not just oil. There had never been a profit result that high before.

This blog in March gave the head of Shell, Jeroen van der Veer, the title of "an unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism" first awarded to Tiny Rowland by Edward Heath. My argument then was that van der Veer was trying to fight off any talk of a windfall profits tax. Big oil knew it had friends at the very top of the US political system in Bush and Cheney, but must have been a bit nervous in the UK of some of the Labour backbenchers.

A windfall profits tax on the oil companies was introduced in 1980 by Jimmy Carter on the oil companies who were gouging the public after the OPEC oil embargo. Now it seems that even some cabinet ministers in the UK are talking about it. See the BBC story "Ministers 'consider' windfall tax". Now the chances are that Brown will be against it, but for the next Labour leader in the Autumn it is important to get some basic Labour ideas across and this is one. Even Barak Obama is talking windfall taxes.

So will it be John Hutton who leads the first revolt against Brown in the government. Much as it doesn't taste very nice, the next Labour leader will be one of the Blair groupies, male or female, but it's not the person that's important but the policies that must change from the Blair/Brown Thatcherite ones in present use.

No comments: