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Even Hatters notices a stink

Comment and opinion from the Times and The Sunday Times - Times Online

A taxing moral paradox
by Roy Hattersley

Whatever Ms Jowell’s eventual fate, the argument surrounding her husband’s business interests marks a watershed in Labour Party history.

The analyses of his activities, which have preoccupied the newspapers recently, have all described him as a specialist in tax avoidance, hedge funds and off-shore investments. Such is the transformation, for which Tony Blair must take credit, that not one commentator has expressed surprise that the husband of a Labour Cabinet minister should earn his living in this fashion.

If the Treasury operates in the way it did when I was a secretary of state, senior civil servants spend a great deal of time working out ways of closing “tax loopholes”. Mr Mills occupies his days opening new ones. We must assume that Ms Jowell, being an honourable woman, finds no conflict of interest in her husband working to frustrate the wishes of the Chancellor with whom she shares the Cabinet table. But she will, I hope, accept that the situation is a paradox.

Mr Mills, I understand, was himself once a Labour councillor and he retains his party membership. Does he, I wonder, believe that his party should welcome the rich making arrangements to reduce their tax liability? Or does he draw a distinction between David Mills the sharp lawyer and David Mills the social democrat? Whatever his answer, the most fascinating aspect of his position concerns not him but the party he supports. Twenty years ago — despite the legality of Mr Mills’s business and his wife’s apparent ignorance of his affairs — Labour would have been outraged by the way in which the Jowells pay their grocery bills. We, the cry would have gone up, can have no truck with tax avoidance. How times have changed.

The hypocritical and amoral conduct of our taxing elite was a point I was going to make, but it has more weight when it comes from an old Labour hack harking back to the old spotless idealistic days of Lord Kagan, Sir Eric Miller, T Dan Smith etc.

Comments

Yet another example of Britain following US trends. The country's rapidly reaching the point where the party that supposedly works for the working class is made up of trust fund kids and schyster lawyers.

Of course these buggers don't care about high taxes and wasteful spending. They're rich enough to be able to afford expensive "tax avoidance consultants" (if they're not already married to one).

Just so long as they get to keep their snouts in the trough at our expense any behaviour is acceptable (apologies to the porkine fraternity, that's the best analogy I could come up with after a shitty day).

The worst thing is, the tories seem hell bent on mimicking this behaviour in the deluded belief that it will make them popular! Why can't they be honest? "We want low taxes because then everybody gets some more cash, including us".

Sod it, I'm off to massacre a good few hundred thousand brain cells. My hot tip for the weekend - buy distilery shares, my planned consumption over the next two days will make you happier.

RM

Thanks for this Tim, I find the entire farce typical of the hypocrisy of the entire Labour Government. Their philosophy can be summed up as
"Us first, us second and any left over - us again!" Alternatively, "we're inboard Jolly Jack, we hope the rest of you can swim!"

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