So we now live on a post-Panama planet. The release of 2,600 gigabytes of top secret records from financial services firm Mossack Fonseca has revealed the staggering and unexpected fact that a lot of dodgy people use offshore havens to evade tax.
Thus far, two prime ministers have been unseated by the leak – the lucky nations are Iceland and Madagascar – and Britain came closer to a revolution than at any time in the last 500 years when the hashtag #ResignCameron trended on Twitter for a couple of days.
Various others soon followed suit. All the Conservatives to release theirs produced beautifully laid out tables of figures prepared by posh firms of city accountants. The Labour MPs to release did so rather differently, posting hastily-scanned PDFs to their Twitter accounts.
Jermy Corbyn, for example, couldn’t publish his on time because he couldn’t find it. (Story of my life. -Ed.) Then when he did eventually find it, a few minutes after the Parliamentary debate on the subject had begun, As Hugo Rifkind said:
Nevertheless, David Cameron’s suggestion in Parliament that the late publication was “incredibly convenient” for Corbyn suggests that, now he’s had time to scrutinise the document, he’ll shortly be announcing what Corbyn was trying to hide. No? He didn’t? Strange that.
The real star of the House of Commons debate, though, was Alan Duncan MP (pictured left). Readers will remember his previous statement that politicians “have to live on rations”, aka a £74,000 salary plus expenses and perks. That was quite daft, but he went one better this time by telling MPs:
Should not the Prime Minister’s critics just […] admit that they hate anyone who has even a hint of wealth? We risk seeing a House of Commons that is stuffed full of low achievers who hate enterprise and hate people who look after their own family and who know absolutely nothing about the outside world?
Alan Duncan is, of course, the expert on the outside world (pictured right) as an Oxford graduate, oil trader and Conservative MP. But then what do I know. I don’t have a hint of wealth so that makes me a low achiever.
Turning to the documents, Cameron’s tax return showed, for the very first time, that every Prime Minister since 1947 has received a portion of their salary tax-free as a gift from the Treasury/ as a gift from their friend, you know, that nice man at Number 11 with the red briefcase. The current portion is £20,000, which acts as a pleasing complement to the £115,000 annual tax-free allowance they receive after leaving office.
But our First Lady Samantha is not left out, never fear. It recently transpired that she has a ‘special adviser’ paid a £50,000 salary out of public revenues. I wonder if they’d consider paying for me to get a PA as well… I contribute just as much to the government…
Corbyn warns Arkush: ‘Board becoming unsafe for Labour members’
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has issued a stark warning to Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews: “The Board has a big problem with Labour hatred, and is becoming unsafe for members of Labour.”
“It is hard to believe that any other party’s concerns would be brushed off this lightly,” he added.
The warning comes after weeks of scathing attacks on Labour by Arkush (pictured far right) and the recent admission of known Conservative sympathisers to the organisation.
In a speech to a gathering of party activists, Corbyn highlighted a number of recent incidents involving offensive anti-Labour rhetoric coming out of the Board’s offices in Kentish Town.
“We’ve seen bedroom tax denial; we’ve seen delegitimisation of Clause 4; we’ve seen the term ‘left-wing’ being thrown around as a venemous insult; we’ve even seen conspiracy theories alleging that we aim to take over the government! Enough is enough. It is beyond belief that Mr Arkush is sitting on his hands while these odious attacks on our people are taking place.”
To the manor Bourne
The PCC elections are hotting up. Down in Sussex, my fave Katy Bourne has unleashed her manifesto on an unsuspecting and uninterested public.
It mainly consists of a list of her achievements, which include: “Body worn cameras issued to all frontline officers” (a policy with no civil liberties implications), “Establishing the UK’s first Elders Commission” (all the meaningless PR benefits of a Young PCC without all the risks) and “Encouraging the creation of a dedicated business crime strategy for Sussex Police”.
Now this last one is interesting. Aside from the fact that the police probably shouldn’t actually be perpetrating business crime – no matter how strategic they are about it – what is unclear from Katy’s manifesto is (1) While she may have been encouraging, did Sussex Police actually do the things they were being encouraged to do?, and (2) Was her encouragement necessary, ie. was Sussex Police not already seized of the importance of tackling business crime?
I’ve sent both of these questions to her campaign team’s press office. I’ll update you, dear readers,
when if I get a sensible reply.
Though I guess she might be busy dealing with the aftermath of being censured by Crowborough Town Council, one of her constituents, for general incompetence.
The Sunday Times reports that the cyber-security wing of the secret services, the Government Communications Headquarters, intervened to prevent the sixth Harry Potter book leaking onto the internet.
They are trying to cultivate a new, fun image, to offset the popular stereotype that they’re all nerds and geeks. Perhaps pursuing their Harry Potter fandom wasn’t the best way to start, then.
To be fair to GCHQ though, they may have very little respect for civil liberties but their press statement was fairly banterous:
We don’t comment on our defence against the dark arts.
Read all about it in:
Beheaded shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes
Kevin Hurley has found a new way of seeking attention, which is to flout the legal requirement that election candidates publish their addresses, by pretending to be an international celeb on several terrorist death lists.
He told reporters, “I am clearly an obvious target to get my head cut off,” referring to his time as an Iraqi policeman, and threatened to pull out of the election unless the Electoral Commission would grant him a special dispensation.
Hurley added that, unless anyone would volunteer to let him use their address (and, presumably, thereby incur the risk of attack themselves…?), “the terrorists will have won”.
How do we know this is just attention-seeking? Because we already know Kev’s address.
And how do we know it? Because he was apparently unconcerned about the threat of the Claygate branch of Isis coming after him when he arranged for his address to be published on the the Companies House website (containing details of the private security company he owns).
It also appeared online on Elmbridge Council’s planning register (from when he build an extension on his house) until earlier this week when it mysteriously disappeared shortly after I drew his office’s attention to the fact.
I wonder why he wasn’t so concerned about baddies being out to get him in those cases. Perhaps because he had nothing to gain, back then, from a public strop.
On the plus side, though, he’s written us a song: