Friday, 18 May 2007

Peace Tax continued again

Helen's letter:
This message was also sent to: Claude Moraes MEP, Gerard Batten MEP, Robert Evans MEP, Mary Honeyball MEP, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, John Bowis OBE MEP, Syed Kamall MEP

Thursday 10 May 2007

Dear John Bowis OBE, Gerard Batten, Claude Moraes, Jean Lambert, Syed Kamall, Robert Evans, Charles Tannock, Mary Honeyball and Baroness Sarah Ludford,

I am one of your constituents, living in north-west London, and you are my representatives at the European Parliament. Apart from Jean Lambert, whom I have heard speak and who is well known for her green credentials, forgive me that I do not know what campaigns and causes
the rest of you are involved in, but I am hoping that the issue I raise here will strike a chord with at least one of you and that I shall have at least one reply.

I am a retired teacher and college lecturer, and so my income tax is deducted at source via PAYE. I am one of the millions of people who have demonstrated consistently against war, and are horrified that our hard-earned money is being creamed off at source to pay for military
weapons,the illegal invasion of Iraq and the deaths of innocent civilians. I no longer feel able to accept this system without challenging it. I have joined the campaign group 'Conscience' which is
advocating the right of European citizens to have that part of one's taxes currently devoted to killing, to be ring-fenced for a 'Peace Tax' devoted to positive mediation to prevent war, and compensation for victims of war. Some members of 'Conscience' have already taken this
matter in the European Court of Human Rights on the basis of Article 9 of the European Convention which protects 'our right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and to manifest that religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.' I need to hear
from you, please,whether or not you are in support of this movement.

I shall be writing also to my British MP, but unfortunately she has voted consistently against investigating the Iraq War, so she is unlikely to ally herself to this critical cause.I do hope that MEPs are more enlightened.

Yours sincerely,
(Mrs.) Helen Dymond

A response from Charles Tannock

Dear Ms Dymond

I do not support this "Conscience" movement or its fiscal philosophy nor does the UK Conservative Party to my knowledge in the UK House of Commons, which would anyway be in charge of direct UK taxation not the European Parliament of which I am a member. I do not believe in ring fencing direct taxes according to one's personal beliefs no matter how strongly or sincerely held (eg animal rights activists opposed to intensive farming, antinuclear protesteres opposed to nuclear power etc) as this would create an impossible precedent in which people would opt out of all sorts of things they did not like and demand their taxes back making government budgeting impossible! To my knowledge no country in the world upholds such an approach as you suggest. In a democrcay you vote for a party and only if it has majority control can it decide to change spending patterns, although I accept we politicians within reason
must be as sensitive to differing views as possible, but this would not in my view mean reducing funding of the armed forces which defend the security of the whole country. I regret I cannot be more helpful but doubt any responsible mainstream party could support such a policy.

Dr. Charles Tannock MEP

London Region
Deputy Coordinator Foreign Affairs Committee for EPP-ED Group
UK Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman

Office of Dr. Charles Tannock MEP
Conservative/London Region

European Parliament
ASP 14 E 101
Rue Wiertz
B-1047 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 28 45870 Fax: +32 2 28 49870

and another one from Peter Hulme

Dear Ms Dymond,

Thank you for your email.

My position on the British involvement in Iraq is as follows, copied from a posting on the internet in November 2004..

"I would have supported an allied invasion of Iraq, including the deployment of British Armed Forces, if this had been sanctioned by a United Nations Resolution. I am not a lawyer, but I do not believe there was a UN Resolution to this effect. I do not therefore support the Government's justification for sending our troops to Iraq.

My support for such a UN Resolution would be conditional upon the invasion being in the UK national interest, and a clear and unambiguous statement of the aims of an invasion from the outset.

I would consider UK national interest to include security of our borders; safety of British subjects overseas; protection of British economic interests including free and fair international trade; and the upholding of international law to promote peace and stability. I would
not be in favour of interference in the internal affairs of another sovereign state unless these principles are at stake."

There have always been people who oppose war and refuse to fight in one for various reasons. In WWII such persons often became medical personnel, stretcher bearers, etc. In more modern times, the proposal has been to withhold a proportion of one's taxes. I think this will be
difficult when one's taxes are taken under the PAYE system, but I can only applaud you for trying.

Best Regards,

Peter Hulme Cross
One London Group
London Assembly

Tel:- 020 7983 4919
and one just in from the Lib Dems

16th May 2007

Dear Ms Dymond,

Thank you for your email dated 10th May 2007 regarding taxes. I am replying on behalf of my colleagues at the London Assembly, Sally Hamwee, Dee Doocey, Graham Tope and Mike Tuffrey.

Thank you for your interesting thoughts on taxes but unfortunately taxation is a matter for Westminster not the London Assembly, so we have no powers over this subject.

We do however sympathise with your concerns. We can confirm that the Liberal Democrats in parliament voted against the horrific Iraq war, and that Ming Campbell has in the past called for early withdrawal of UK troops backed up by re-energised talks and negotiations with Middle Eastern powers.

Thank you for writing to us.

Yours sincerely,
Geoff Pope AM
Liberal Democrat Assembly Member


kathryn said...

Good on you Helen! I'm so impressed. Thanks lots for sharing this step in your own campaign. Has anyone else got this far? (I certainly haven't.)

I particularly like the fact that the Tory can't spell democracy.

kathryn said...

Helen's response to Charles:

Dear Charles Tannock

Thank you very much for replying so quickly to my letter about the Peace Tax: you are one of only three of my elected representatives who have so far done so. I also really appreciate your spelling out your arguments in some detail, as they have reminded me precisely why this redistribution of power needs to come about.

You say that it would be unworkable to expect a Government to ring-fence monies based on beliefs.. But this is exactly what the Government is now doing - earmarking a proportion of my taxes for war, ring-fencing it for the purpose of killing people. We are talking about the taking of human life, not animal rights or anti nuclear protests, valid though those protests are. Most people would take the view that the destroying of human lives is a completely different level of problem because it means that you and I and all of us are, here and now in the present, complicit in murder.

You say the money paid to the armed forces is justified because they “defend the security of the whole country.” In the case where we were directly threatened by the imminent invasion of our island by Hitler, this was a plausible argument. In the case of Iraq, where the sanctioning of war by parliament rested entirely on ill-founded rumours of WMD and where there was no threat to our national security, there has never been any justification.

You say our system of ‘representative democracy’ means that for pragmatic reasons we just have to accept the policies of our rulers even if they seem immoral and intolerable. Happily, history has proved the very reverse. Immoral leadership can be challenged and overturned: the slave trade has been abolished, disenfranchised groups such as women and children have won civil rights.

Finally you express doubts that The Peace Tax will ever be taken seriously by a “responsible” authority. Perhaps you are unaware that a month ago (18.04.07) in the United States, Representative John Lewis reintroduced the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill to the 110th Congress. (Bill no. 1921) It seeks to establish a governmental trust fund into which designated conscientious objectors will pay their full federal income taxes. The accumulated revenue will then be allocated yearly by Congress to any federal program that is unrelated to military purposes and will thus provide the same unarmed service to the nation as conscientious objectors did during the Second World War, Korean War and Vietnam War.

I thank you again for the courtesy of your reply, and would be glad to hear from you again,

Yours sincerely,

Helen Dymond