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10 February 2010

Could Richard Curtis have another hit with the Robin Hood tax?

Bill Nighy stars in short film to launch campaign for a tax on financial transactions.

By Samira Shackle

 

Richard Curtis and Bill Nighy have made a new film, but it isn’t a romance and it doesn’t feature Hugh Grant.

The short film (above) takes as its topic a proposed banking tax — previously known as the financial transaction tax, or the Tobin tax (after the economist who named it), but rebranded here as the altogether more snappy “Robin Hood tax”.

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Bill Nighy, a brilliantly shifty and unpleasant executive, cashes in on the public’s suspicion of bankers as he tries to wave away the “very complex” proposal.

The film argues that a tax of just 0.05 per cent on global transactions between financial institutions (equating to five pence for every £1,000) would raise hundreds of billions of pounds to alleviate poverty and fund public services.

The campaign — supported by a coalition of domestic and international charities and unions — was launched today, although early on Tuesday morning, the phrase “Be part of the world’s greatest bank job” was projected on to the Bank of England. Such innovative, guerrilla marketing tactics may well be an effective way of mobilising public support. At the very least, it informs people about an arcane tax law in an exciting and entertaining way.

There are arguments to be made for and against the tax (the Guardian summarises a few of these perspectives), but with Curtis onside, making use of YouTube, Facebook and celebrity endorsements, it will be interesting to see what impact, if any, the film has on public discourse, and even policy — let’s not forget that Gordon Brown endorsed the idea not so long ago.

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