The bosses of some of Britain's largest multinational corporations have urged David Cameron to stop moralising and rein in his rhetoric on tax avoidance ahead of a G8 summit next month.
Chief executives of companies such as Burberry, Tesco, Vodafone, BAE Systems, Prudential and GSK were keen to take a final opportunity to lobby the prime minister in advance of the meeting of political leaders in Northern Ireland.
The action apparently took place during a meeting of Cameron's business advisory group, which he met with on Monday. Amongst those present was the president of the Confederation of British Industry, Sir Roger Carr, who has said tax avoidance "cannot be about morality – there are no absolutes".
He's wrong: there are absolutes, and it is most particularly true that there is no legal, ethical, fiduciary or any other duty to get round the law - which is what tax avoidance is. Put simply, seeking to abuse the law in this way - which many multinational corporations do - is unethical. That's true in itself: law abiding people do not abuse the law. But it's true at other deeper levels too.
First, any company doing this knows they shift the burden of tax at this onto someone else. That's free-riding the system.
Second, this is anti-competitive. Big business seeking to get a competitive advantage at cost to small companies is unethical.
Third, this can't even be defended by business need. The resulting cash surpluses are not used to employ people. Big business is simply sitting on massive cash piles for which it has no use, but which do inflate director's bonuses (which is what all this is really about).
Fourth, claiming companies pay VAT and PAYER in exchange is just nonsense, and a knowing fabrication of the truth: these sums are paid by customers and employees.
And despite all this the CBI is also proposing wholly unethical reform processes, as the Guardian notes:
The CBI boss invited the G8 to consider three points in relation to tax reform:
• Avoiding the moral debate – "it's all about the rules".
• Fixing the rules on an international stage, not unilaterally.
• Consulting on proposed changes with business.
The argument is:
1) Ethics have no role in business. What are the boundaries to this logic, I wonder?
2) The state must not act against big business - which is an argument to say democracy has no rights
3) Business may only be taxed with its consent.
This is arrogance in the extreme. But it is something much more than that. It is an argument that democracy has no place, states have no role, opinion no longer matters, and that the accumulation of wealth by an elite should be the focus of all policy.
In that case we have a fight on our hands: it is a fight for our way of life, security, principles and system of government, all of which the CBI is set out to destroy.
Make no mistake: this is not just a fight about tax (although it is that). It is a fight about the survival of democracy and self determination in the face of a global elite who want to destroy both.