Claire Black: Plumbers with rumpled tenners in their paws have nothing to do with it
I’VE never really been a fan of magic.
I don’t think people – like me – who have literally no idea as to how the “magic” happens ever are. The fun comes from knowing how the trick works but not being able to spot it. I, on the other hand, still don’t really understand how they get the rabbit into the hat. Really, how do they do that?
No surprises then that I didn’t enjoy Treasury Minister David Gauke’s trick the other day, when he said that paying tradesmen cash in hand is “morally wrong”. The technical term for that is sleight of hand. You know, when the economy is tanking and corruption and venality seem endemic to our financial industries, let’s distract the plebs with talk of how evil it is to pay the plumber £40 for unblocking the drain with real money in his real hand.
Ha! I saw what you did there. Not quite David Blaine standard.
After all, the Tax Justice Network has estimated that there is £13 trillion hidden in offshore tax havens. That’s more than the entire UK economy, which, granted, will be worth about £2.50 by the end of next week the way things are going. But the point is this: global tax avoidance (not evasion – that’s illegal) is big business. BIG. The hillock of cash lost to HMRC from people paying for services in cash doesn’t even remotely compare with the mountain of money deliberately siphoned out of the economy through systematic, calculated, tax avoidance.
How would Gauke explain it, I wonder? I mean, he should know – he worked for a legal firm that has “particular expertise in the structuring of tax efficient… incentive plans” for six years. His wife is a corporate tax law specialist too. And funnily enough, I don’t think that means she advises people on how to ensure they are paying all of their tax.
Hypocrisy is the only word. And that’s why it’s particularly unpleasant that he brought morals into it. Oh dear.
Morally wrong is allowing the company responsible for the Bhopal disaster (Dow Chemicals) to sponsor the Olympic Games. Morally wrong is allowing Vodafone to wipe billions from their tax bill. Morally wrong is dismantling the NHS when you didn’t even actually win the election. Morally wrong is plunging disabled people into financial penury by cutting their benefits.
The facts are simple: we all need to pay taxes – all of us – if we want decent public services and a functioning society. And we all need to be clear about what kind of non-payment of tax is the real problem: plumbers with rumpled tenners in their paws have nothing to do with it. No magic required.
NOT that I want to add to the woes of Robsten (that’s KStew and R-Patz for the uninitiated), but I need to tell you that I sat in a room with both of them (at separate times, but not separate in that way) the day before the fateful infidelity pictures were taken. And, you know what, I did think KStew seemed a bit off – her eye shadow was really smudged. I thought I was being a bit harsh at the time, but in recent days I have been proved right. So beware. It’s not your eyes that are the windows to your soul – it’s your eye shadow.
WHO knew that ringing bells could be such fun. Standing on the Scotsman Steps at 8am on Friday morning I was practically giddy with anticipation. Actually there was quite a lot of premature ringing going on such were the levels of excitement. So thank you Martin Creed and the Fruitmarket Gallery for giving us something connected to the Olympics that we could actually enjoy. «
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east