It must be quite a day for a politician to find himself able to criticise a comedian over his tax avoidance. Like a bullied kid finding his tormentor knocked down by a runaway penny-farthing (I’m just imagining Dave’s schooldays here…) he must have been tempted to stick the boot in a bit. Wisely, he’s resisted the attempt to make a joke of his own (assuming that the current cabinet isn’t some sort of esoteric black comedy cabaret). He might have been wiser to keep his mouth shut altogether, however. Firstly, if you’ve ever seen a heckler who thinks that he has a good line go up against a gifted comic like Carr, you’ll know that the challenger usually finishes firmly in second place. Don’t take on a professional comic in a gag-telling contest, after all, he’s not moving in on your territory by robbing the poor for his own personal… oh, hang on a minute. Well, maybe I can see the temptation.
But go into a fight swinging and there’s always another punch on the way and it’s going to be a little trickier for Dave to duck the Guardian’s revelation that the PM’s considerable personal fortune (oh, yes, remember that Dave’s quite odiously minted…) has been built up with the aid of very similar offshore tax-avoidance schemes. Whoops.
Let’s hope no comedians find out. You know how they are with hypocritical statements from politicians.
A lot of the more trenchant criticism that’s come in the wake of the revelations about Jimmy Carr has been directed at… oh, look, the government. Seriously, trying to shift attention over tax dodging to a popular stand-up comedian is going to be like trying to nail a fart to the wall. It’s been pointed out that perhaps the law could do more to prevent these loopholes from existing. The popular response to these criticisms is “Well, it’s difficult. People will always find loopholes in tax laws, so the best way to deal with it is to urge people to do the right thing. Besides, draconian tax laws will scare off foreign investment.” I’d be more inclined to listen to those arguments if they weren’t always issued by a senior tax lawyer whose chauffeur if waiting to whisk him back to his giant country estate. And if it wasn’t bollocks. After all, a chief constable wouldn’t get away with saying “Well, it’s difficult. People will always find a way to commit rape. Our best bet is to simply tell them that it’s naughty. Besides, sales of rohypnol, gaffer tape and balaclavas would be hit hard if we came down harder on rapists.”
I’m giving Carr partial credit for his instant attempt to put things right/fix his image. He owned up (sort of) and claims to have pulled out of the scheme. If I were a tax avoiding, ostensibly left-leaning liberal comedian I could probably construct a droll justification based on the current government using my hard-earned to start wars in other countries, prop up greedy, incompetent bankers and sell off public healthcare to private concerns. I’ll give him full credit when he calculates the tax that he’s avoided and pays the same sum into a socially responsible cause.
In the meantime, the argument about the super rich remains. If they’re avoiding tax, that should be a gamble. We should make sure that they lose and take everything that they have. That whining about the super-rich propping up the economy is specious bollocks. Take one billionaire to the cleaners and there’ll be another of the rabid little bastards fighting his way up from underneath in no time.
Now, Dave, good effort – unlucky. Any of your ill-gotten gains going to Shelter this tax year?