Thursday, March 04, 2010

Tax is for little people

There is something disgusting about the fact that people who avoid paying tax in this country can bung their ill-gotten gains at a political party – and enjoy a peerage to boot.

Never mind the cash-for-peerages scandal, the truth has always been that rich men can buy themselves a seat at the top table.

It's a whole lot easier to be rich and buy yourself power and influence if you don't pay high taxes in the country where you flash your cash. You’ve got so much more to spare.

What's so offensive is not so much that rich people can buy themselves power and privilege – 'twas ever thus.

What's sickening is that they can do so at our expense. We, the little people, pay our taxes out of our hard-earned pittances.

Yet if you're mega-rich, you can avoid most taxes in this country and, as a result, have so much un-taxed money you can afford to funnel millions into the political party of your choice.

The other night, Michael Gove tried to intimidate the BBC as it was reporting on Lord Ashcroft's tax status by warning that the way it treated the other political parties, which also accept massive donations from rich "non-doms", would be monitored by the Conservatives.

Fair enough. But the veiled threat implied in his smug, self-satisfied grin was a worry. Two wrongs don’t make a right, Mr Gove, and while the BBC is politically biased against the Tories, you still need to be careful in choosing the ground you fight on.

Furthermore, it is unbelievable that William Hague and David Cameron did not know the details of Lord Ashcroft’s tax status.

The peer has more or less bought their party lock, stock and barrel.

We are assured the Conservatives will win the next election because they have done so much groundwork in the marginal constituencies that they will buck any national trend.

If that is so, they have Lord Ashcroft’s millions to thank.

The millions he has pumped into marginal constituencies – a good £25,000 a year for about 100 seats over three years which I make £7.5 million – that give him his own office, personal staff and private command centre at CCHQ.

If the party’s leaders truly didn’t know the details of Lord Ashcroft’s tax status, it is because they didn’t want to know. They were willing to turn a blind eye in exchange for his largesse.

If they did know, then it’s no surprise they wanted to keep quiet about it.

Either way, if political parties and seats in the British Parliament can be bought and sold by people who are, to all intents and purposes, foreigners, then we are nothing but a corrupt banana republic.

We have no right to complain about the way elections are bought and sold elsewhere in the world.

And yet again our political masters prove the truth of the hideous boast that “tax is for little people”.

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