Here's an extract from the FCA Blog article, a point that I had totally missed when I read the Labour party's propaganda piece:
'3) Barclays 2009 consolidated profits include a significant disposal which is taxed differently under UK law
(HT here to The Pedant-General and Alex, who first commented on this over at Tim Worstall's blog)
In arriving at a profit before tax figure of £11.6bn, The Guardian has added the profit from the ongoing business (£4,585m 1) to profits from a disposed business (£726m 2) and the gain made on disposal of that business (£6,331m 3) to reach a total of £11,642m.
In 2002 (yes, under Gordon Brown), the UK government introduced the Substantial shareholdings exemption, a corporation tax exemption for UK businesses disposing of a substantial shareholding in part of their business. The idea was that businesses should be more able to restructure their businesses without having to worry about unfortunate chargeable gains implications.
As explained in note 39 to the accounts, this means that the bulk of the gain on disposal isn't chargeable to UK corporation tax at all.'
I can see that FCA Blog (a FCA being a senior Chartered Accountant) will have to become regular reading.