In an extremely close vote at the BMA annual representative meeting in Bournemouth yesterday, 53% of delegates backed a motion applauding the call for the tax by former BMA president Sir Michael Marmot.
A motion was also passed calling on the BMA to lobby the government to implement the tax, which calls for a 0.05% levy on the banking sector to raise an estimated £20bn a year to be spent on public services including the NHS, fighting climate change and for overseas humanitarian aid.
There were claps and cheers when medical student Khalil Secker, who put forward the motion, rejected a proposal from deputy chairwoman of the BMA Council Dr Kate Bullen to take it as a reference.
He said: ‘I am not asking the BMA to invest loads of time and money and resources. I am asking us to add our names to the very long list of trade unions that already support this.'
BMA council member and consultant Dr Paul Miller argued against supporting the tax. ‘Unless it is global then it isn’t going to work. And if you think the entire world is going to impose this tax, then I’m astonished.
‘The financial services industry is a very important industry and has a lot of jobs in London but also importantly in Edinburgh and it brings in huge income tax revenues and corporation tax revenues.
‘It will destroy UK jobs, reduce income tax and corporation tax receipts and it won’t produce the outcome you desire.’
The tax is also referred to as the ‘Tobin tax’ after the late Nobel prize winning American economist James Tobin, who proposed it in 1972.