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Wednesday, 05 August 2015

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A long way to fall from your moral high horse Mr Cameron

You’ve got to hand it to him. He’s hit the nail right on the head. David Cameron’s not nearly as daft as his hastily dumped pasty tax plan might suggest.

David Cameron photo
David Cameron

This country is indeed suffering from a “something for nothing” culture. Our current system does encourage outrageous, unaffordable scrounging.

Fiddling and bleeding the public purse for personal advantage does breed resentment among taxpayers – and the sooner those stings are tackled, the better.

Just one little hitch needs ironing out first. I’m talking about multi-millionaire tax-dodgers... he’s referring to cunning benefit claimants. And what he’s refusing to acknowledge is that one manipulative abuser of public funds is every bit as nasty as the next.

Timing is everything when you decide to climb up onto your high, borrowed police horse. Get it wrong and you fall from grace humiliatingly fast.

He’s got it wrong.

Singling out young housing benefit claimants for harsh treatment – effectively threatening homelessness – while refusing to condemn his election campaigning pal Gary Barlow for avoiding taxes due on his eye-watering earnings is, to put it politely, not at all bright.

And if a doggedly in-denial thought process, setting up the rich as forgivable while demonising the poor, is the best considered opinion he can come up with, the best way to describe it is close to monstrous.

Furious outcry over comedian Jimmy Carr’s tax avoidance, allowing him to pay just one percent on his earnings – reported to have been £3.5 million last year – was unavoidable, inevitable and justified.

The Prime Minister weighed in with his own condemnation, calling the comic’s arrangements morally repugnant, but stopped short of promising to plug the creative accounting schemes which allow the super-wealthy to shirk responsibility for sharing the country’s financial burdens.

Carr, having been found out, did eventually apologise for an error of judgement. Recently-honoured Barlow kept a low profile and said nothing.

A debate on morality – and whether politicians should engage in one – ensued, conveniently to take eyes off the main ball in play.

Morals are neither here nor there when goodness knows how many loaded individuals, corporate businesses and banks are withholding billions of pounds a year from a country so desperately on its uppers it has to withdraw welfare support from impoverished young families, cut public services and shed jobs. Economics are what matters.

We were happy to indulge in superior sneering when Greece hit the buffers because those with pots of money weren’t paying taxes to keep the country in the black and put the unemployed back to work. So, who’s sneering now?

Only the ones who haven’t been found out, which – whether celebrity tax dodger, benefits scrounger or politician with sticky fingers in the expenses pot – usually means the ones who know how to make the most of a system which is basically corrupt and one from which too many blind eyes are turned for as long as it suits.

And that, Mr C, is when it is particularly dangerous to mount that high horse. It can be a very long way down.

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