Jimmy Carr – The Artful Tax Dodger

Sixty-six percent of the Guardian’s poll stated that Jimmy Carr was morally wrong to play his taxes the way he did.  Morally wrong, well, what do you think? I would agree, but he is a comedian and has said a plethora of immoral things in his career, but we all laughed heartily at that.  “But it’s not illegal to speak your mind and say how you feel.., but dodging tax is, and it’s against the law!” But it is against the law to incite racial violence or to say things which could become libelous, so then free of speech has been impeded, you see how difficult it is to know where the line is drawn.

Jimmy Carr has been using an off-shore Jersey scheme to funnel the amount he pays in tax in the UK. It is not illegal, but has been heavily condemned by David Cameron who sees it as ‘morally corrupt’. The Prime Minister has allegedly started to put together a set of new laws that will stop this ‘safe-haven’ system.

But another issue concerns Take That singer – Gary Barlow who has also been keen to avoid the tax man by putting money into a similar Jersey ‘K2’ scheme.  A donor to the Conservative party, there has been little light on this signer who was very prominent during the Jubilee celebrations and was even awarded an OBE for his efforts (for which now there have been calls for him to return it).  Mr David Cameron has not been so keen to berate him as he has been to tear into Jimmy Carr.  Why, because if you start looking into who proudly donates to the Tory party and pays less that the required amount of tax then the numbers could rise quite high. Labour stalwart, Dennis Skinner demanded a list of those politicians closet to David Cameron to publicly show how, when and where they pay their taxes.  Ed Miliband has remarked that he thinks politicians should avoid giving the public lessons on morality and instead put in place laws, but it is still the responsibility of these elected so-and-so’s to lead by example, rather than ‘do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do.’ If they cannot be the ones who lead our society by the morals they set out then we really are fucked!

OK Jimmy Carr should have paid his taxes, everybody should, everybody should pay their fair share.  Such speakers as Will Self came out months ago when the whole debacle over the reduction of the higher tax bracket was in the news. He believed that someone with his level of wealth should help out those less well-off in society.  So it would have been morally right for Jimmy to have done the same, but he didn’t break the law.  The line between tax evasion and avoidance is clear, one is knowingly disclosing false figures to HMRC and the other is setting up a charity or off-shore fund where you receive substantial tax breaks.  Jimmy Carr just showed that if you have money, you can find those who can find those little holes to avoid paying less.  His career will possibly take a slight sip, but he will ride it out because it is not his responsibility to demonstrate a high degree of morals to the public, we have our politicians for that.  And it should be the politicians who seal up all the holes that have let these wealthy individuals get away with paying as little as 1% tax.

Liam Fox’s Real Agenda

In politics it’s often not what you know, but whom you know.  This has been clearly the case of Dr. Liam Fox MP, the Defense Secretary and his ‘best man’ Adam Werritty.  News has been flowing thick and fast about the allegations that Mr. Werrity used access to Dr. Fox to set up several lucrative meetings with defense contractors in Dubai, as well as accompanying the MP on numerous trips around the globe.

This, at least on moral grounds is totally wrong, completely and totally wrong, if proven, but I bet that if anyone who wanted to be considered a capitalist, or who just wanted to make a few extra quid on the backs of your chums, well then I think would have to hang our heads in shame as we are all probably guilty.  I’m not saying that it is right, of course it isn’t, but as Henry Kissinger said – “Ninety percent of all politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation.”  I mean Mr. Fox is a conservative and that stands in favour of business and enterprise, so he, if he did, probably meant it, right?

Over two years Mr. Werritty has been heavily present in over eighteen meetings as well as twenty-two in the Ministry of Defense (MoD) without any official position.  He has travelled as far afield as Australian, US and Bahrain as well as other regions in the Middle East.  In one particular incident the pair were at a dinner table in Dubai where per chance they began talking to representatives of a defense contractor.

David Cameron has come out publicly and said that he thinks Dr. Fox is doing a fantastic job in a very difficult position, I mean he’s not Secretary of Culture for a start, I mean he has a job that actually means something.  According to The Telegraph, Mr. Cameron said; “It is clear, as Liam Fox himself said yesterday, that serious mistakes were made in allowing the distinction between professional responsibilities and personal loyalties to be blurred.”  But will he fire him as a result of this; you can probably guess that is very unlikely.  He even admitted that the Secretary had ‘been completely’ honest and that ‘no important information’ had been spoken to, or handed to Mr. Werritty, who shares secrets with their best man?  So we have some comfort in knowing that information, which could be ‘Top Secret’ has never passed into the hands of some irksome civilians, perish the thought!  Even more cause for concern is the fact that officials in Whitehall are pondering on how Mr. Werritty makes his money after both he and Dr. Fox have admitted that their best buddy relationship does not provide financial gain despite the fact he is a businessman, who according to sources was paid £10,000 last year for an introduction by a Dubai business.  Currently both are keeping their cards close to their chests and not providing any details of their monetary agreements.  What has been amusing is that Mr. Fox has continually stated that he nor Mr. Werritty have taken any money in any deal that would seek to benefit others who are involved, but that’s a little too ‘left’ for me to fathom.  I have always thought that the Tories were meant to be hardened capitalists, that’s why they are currently looking to reduce the tax on the rich and seeking to set up as many ‘academy’ schools as possible.  They want business to take the reigns and lead nearly every aspect of our society, so why then do we expect that someone who has been voted in by a democratic system to adhere to those principles that got him that power and do what is best for others when he is a businessman at heart.

Nick Clegg and the House of Lords Reform

The crowned portcullis, symbol of the Parliame...

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Nick Clegg does not seem to be having the best of luck these days.  A month ago his AV referendum went up in smoke and now it seems his plan to change the way the House of Lords is elected is going the way of the Dodo too.  But what did he really expect?  Firstly, nobody this side of the solar system has any respect for him and those that say they do are just trying to steal his parking space, but secondly it’s the House of Lords for God’s sake, what was he thinking; they’ll never change.

According to a study conducted by the Times newspaper, almost 80% of elected peers would be against such reforms planned by Mr. Clegg, believing it to be unconstitutional.  He planned to reduce the number members down to 300, each an individually elected peer and eventually hoping to remove all hereditary entitlements.  Each was to be given a 15-year term, but not surprisingly almost all those surveyed by the newspaper said that they would oppose any and all plans.

All the main parties made reforming the House of Lords part of their 2010 election manifestos, but now it seems that it is unlikely change leading some commentators to suggest that the government could implement the Parliament Act 1911, which effectively bypasses the HOL.  This last time this occurred was in 2004 when the Commons passed the Hunting Ban.  But it is easy to see why in the hell the Lords wouldn’t want reform.

Back in the day you didn’t have to do much to find yourself a seat in the HOL, all you needed was to be popped out of Baroness’ cherished hotspot and in a number of years your Lordy Lord father would pop his clogs and low and behold you’d have a seat.  Now it is a little bit more difficult, but not too much.  Hereditary peers still exist and they get paid to sit around for as little as 136 days a year for no more than six hours a day for just under £70,000.  It seems the perfect job, why would you want to give that up, and why would you allow some snotty upstart politician that suffered badly in one electoral vote, who has turned his attention to the system that has given you most afternoons off? A Lord without a peerage is like a shire horse without anything to tow, all it is, is a bucket load of rancid old meat!  Even when the Times put out this survey to all 789 members only 300 or so could be bothered to fill it out and return, what does that say about how futile a system it is?

The Deputy Prime Minister has long stated his view on the House, “I have always supported 100% elected,” And the Conservatives have also tried to sound out how they will attempt to improve the current system, “We will seek to build a consensus for a mainly elected second chamber to replace the current house of Lords, that an efficient and effective second chamber should play an important role in our democracy,” (Conservative Election Manifesto 2010) but with more than double the amount of peers than either political party, do they really seem likely to change current law and insinuate anarchy in their ranks?

Do we need a House of Lords really?  Surely the point of electing a government in the House of Commons is so they that can implement the laws they put forward in their manifesto and not to see them fall short because the House of Lords is closed for the day due to a day trip from the residential home where the majority of members live.  They are mostly unelected, stuffy and completely out of touch with the modern world.  Any group of persons that vote against a bill that bans fox hunting because they consider it ‘traditional’ instead of a senseless and wretched blood sport should be stripped down to their briefs and given a 10-second head start before a group of starved wolfhounds are let off their lease.

I think the public would have more respect for Nick Clegg and his viewpoint if he were to take a few stark-mad, slightly loopy Lords and take them out onto Dartmoor and release them back into the wild doing a decent thing for his career and for us – the ever accepting tax payer!

The Rabbit and the Turtle Tories

With the General Election all done and dusted, but without an overall ‘winner’, David Cameron and his Tory party must seek to make an alliance with Liberal Democrats.  The surprising failure of the Lib Dem’s to secure more seats coupled with Labour‘s surprise at remaining in the election has led to the Conservatives looking for so-called potential friends to give them an outright majority. So what went wrong for the Tories and Cameron’s Cons?

A few months ago the Conservatives seemed a shoe in for Number 10.  Gordon Brown was seen as an unapproachable giant who happened to be stood in front of a handful of cabinet ministers who were just waiting for their P45’s to come through the letterbox. In the leadership debates that took the country by storm we were swept up in Nick Clegg‘s hurricane.  The Conservatives were thunderstruck, so to try and claw back some votes David Cameron began by introducing radical new policies left, right and centre to try and lure in extra votes.  Think back to Tony Blair‘s last minute introduction of 24hour drinking just before an election.  But it’s all well and good introducing new policies such as a complete overhaul of the watering system or plans to introduce the fastest internet in Europe, apparently creating over 600,000 jobs, but realistically there are so many proposals to consider that they would have to pass through several bills a week to get up to speed with what was said in their manifesto.  Understandably you have to make changes if you are the succeeding government or else what makes you any different, but at the same time you don’t necessarily want to shoot yourselves in the foot too.

The reason why the Conservatives didn’t do as well as expected is simply because people today have more understanding on how politicians promise one thing, but fail to deliver another.  And no matter what MPs think, people read newspapers and listen to the news, so they understand that when a politicial party sets its bar very high it has a very difficult time trying to jump over it.