A week is a long time in politics and this one has been even longer for our Prime Minister. It seems like an age since the budget and subsequent fall out. Cameron managed to stretch the suspense like a bad action film over seven days finally admitting that he must take the blame over the confusing ever evolving tax haven story. (Guardian 9/4/16)
He then published his tax affairs (Daily Mail 9/4/16) which have sparked off more questions as it now appears he ‘avoided’ paying £70,000 tax on his father’s inheritance receiving £300,000 which is under the 40% tax rate and then receiving the remaining £200,000 afterwards from his mother. This is in the light of the Prime Minister who said “We’re all in this together… let’s pull together… Let’s work together in the national interest,” (Sky News 6/10/10) The shine has now very much come off the Cameron brand and naturally anger is the public’s reaction.
I personally welcome Cameron’s move to become more transparent over his tax affairs. However I’m very disappointed that he is being led down this route because he’s been caught out rather than because; as he’d say “it’s the right thing to do.” Being PM is not just about living within the laws of decency and honesty. It is also about crafting and enabling the enforcement of the law to stop people ripping off our society. Cameron sounded like he took this seriously before, but now he’s really nailing his colours to the tax avoidance mast in a bid to clear his tarnished name.
In 2012, when Jimmy Carr was exposed for tax avoidance, Cameron was one of the first to say that his actions were “…quite frankly morally wrong.” (BBC 20/6/12). Well why then has it taken four years to propose to set up a ‘task force’ (BBC 10/4/16) led by HMRC and the National Crime Agency? Ed Milliband’s words in 2012 are particularly relevant to us today “I think what the politicians need to do is – if the wrong thing is happening – change the law to prevent that tax avoidance happening.” (BBC 20/6/12)
I await his proposals tomorrow. If they do tackle tax avoidance and battle some of the numerous financial corruptions in our world then I welcome his plan. However, if this is a fudge and a way to change the news cycle, then I see the vultures of Johnson, Gove and Osborne circling the bones of Cameron’s compassionate Conservatism.