It seems that no self-respecting candidate to succeed as the leader of Britain’s ‘party for business’ is not a ‘self-made’ multi-millionaire with a crock of skeletons in their cupboard, left over from their path to riches – particularly relating to the common trait of tax dodging.
Tax dodging, which one must hasten to explain refers to ‘avoidance’ rather than ‘evasion’, is one of the methods by which the financially advantaged become increasingly advantaged at the expense of the financially disadvantaged, who unlike them are not in a position to manage their own salaries, hire accountants and set up off-shore companies to avoid tax on their properties and other assets.
Having the opportunity to swap nationalities or claim ‘non-dom’ status is an added advantage for such wheeler dealers cum politicians. However, their mean and selfish credentials separate these would be leaders from any convincing qualification of being ‘in it with the rest of us’ as much as Boris’s partying during Covid.
Law makers ought not chase loopholes in their own laws to enrich themselves.
Nonetheless, without exception, these Tory contenders espouse the view that what the country needs as a leader is an excellent ‘business brain’ (like themselves) for getting rich at the expense of others, rather than someone concerned to govern with everyone in mind.
The favourite justification is that creating wealth (for themselves) creates jobs. It would be nice to hear from the likes of Mr Zahawi how hiding his wealth from tax in an off-shore haven creates jobs for anyone besides a bunch of lawyers and bankers who are doubtless happy to fund his party.
In consequence, should Mr Zahawi be raced to the emergency ward it will be the less well off who pay for his treatment and likewise it is the less well off who bear the brunt of all the other expenses that enable him to enjoy a working transport system, law and order, defence, a civil service and justice system along with all the rest of those vital services that his party fanatics spend their time trying to squeeze in the name of ‘small government’ (services that provide jobs).
Voters need to consider if these tax dodgers were contributing fairly to such services whether they would not as leaders hold a far greater interest in seeing the money properly spent (rather than handed out on crony contracts like a third world kleptocracy)? Instead, the key obsession is with further cutting taxes on business and the wealthy like themselves.
Here is the line up of top Tory contenders who have shown themselves willing to dodge the laws that force the rest of us to contribute to our society:
Jeremy Hunt (self-made multi-millionaire)
Mr Hunt has made it absolutely clear that he has not broken any law. However, he seems unable to deny that he is a successful loopholer when it comes to avoiding that scourge for the rest of us, stamp duty. In 2018 The Mirror broke the news of his ‘bulk flat buying’ scheme that saved him £100,000, for example.
Clearly this is not the sort of manoeuvre available to the average Joe. He also failed to declare his controlling interest in the venture in the proper manner, thereby breaking the law on Anti-money laundering brought in by his own government. Police accepted that this was a mistake.
Nadhim Zahawi (self-made multi-millionaire)
The concerns over Mr Zahawi are already spawning a multiplicity of challenges and queries against the backdrop of his earlier business dealings advising a Kurdish oil venture whose bosses are now in jail for fraud.
And when it came to buying his multi-million pound palaces in London and his constituency this British Chancellor chose to do so through off-shore companies .. in order to avoid his own government’s taxes. Likewise, it appears he has invested in his flagship polling company You Gov through off-shore companies, again avoiding his government own taxes.
This according to the Parliamentary all party group on Corruption which has just issued a slew of other questions about the tax dodging Chancellor, who plainly thinks he is just the man to steer the nation and has been secretly crafting his leadership bid behind Boris Johnson’s back using the Prime Minister’s own advisors as his inside track (clearly he could pay them more than the financially challenged incumbent of No 10).
Rishi Sunak (Self-made multi-billionaire through marriage)
No less unedifying is the tax dodging of the only too recent previous Chancellor – or at least his wife, who has inherited the family cash. Once again, it has become clear that all efforts have been taken to keep that money out of the clutches of his own department of state over the preceding years.
His wife achieved this feat by simply claiming she is not British – her ‘non-dom’ status has saved her potentially tens of millions in taxes on her billion pound fortune it has been revealed in the past weeks, whilst her husband has been clawing crippling amounts of money back from the hard pressed masses with 15 tax rises and by putting up National Insurance premiums they can’t avoid.
She has apologised, but she is no worse than her husband who whilst Chancellor of the United Kingdom was forced to admit that for 19 months in the role (and the previous 6 years as an MP) he had been declaring himself as a “permanent US resident” as a green card holder. He has not explained why and she has not explained where she keeps her cash and if an whether any of is held in tax havens.
The other key contender for the job has shown himself to be equally canny in avoiding paying his dues to society through taxes. After all, he had succeeded in classing himself as a ‘non-domicile’ (despite being British and working in Britain) for six years before entering politics. To do so he would have had to declare that despite being British born he did not intend to continue to live in the UK over the longer term.
Deciding instead to later enter politics, he nonetheless failed, whilst an MP and PPS to then Chancellor George Osborne, to declare (as required by Parliamentary rules) a family off-shore company he had an interest in. When asked whether the the money coming in from off-shore was subject to tax he declined to answer.
Whilst a banker he was linked to Dark Blue Investments which ran an employee benefit trust where staff were paid their share bonuses via trusts to avoid tax. The Supreme Court later ruled that tax ought to be paid on these bonuses.
These are now The Conservative Party’s top contenders to lead the country. Men who have demonstrated their willingness to slide out of their own patriotic obligations to pay their dues whilst imposing higher taxes, cut backs and austerity measures against everybody else.
They think all this shows they are smart. They think they are equipped to be the ‘CEO’ of the country having shown how to exploit the rules they themselves impose. The rest of us have to hope and believe their theories of ‘trickle down effect’ (jobs servicing their luxurious needs) with keep the rest of us prosperous.
Clearly, there were jobs to be had, for example, building Mr Sunak’s £250,000 heated swimming pool, gym and tennis court for his manor house – the £13,000 a year fuel bills will not be a worry for him at least.