Ed Miliband’s father was branded a traitor to Britain for his Marxist views, but what about Ian Cameron’s tax avoidance?
DO you know the biggest surprise to come out of the revelations about the great and good stashing their cash in far-flung tax havens?
The media actually expected us to be surprised.
So Vladimir Putin is amassing billions by using his mates as cover. Wow, that’s a shock.
Personally, I’ve always operated under the assumption that the rich and powerful make sure they stay that way by dodging tax wherever and however they can.
Still, the so-called Panama Papers – a leak of 11 million documents from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca – have made life a bit tricky for poor David Cameron.
It turns out that the father of the Prime Minister responsible for an unprecedented scaling back of state help for the poorest and most vulnerable set up a firm which reportedly hasn’t paid tax in Britain for 30 years.
His late dad, Ian, set up the offshore company in Panama with the apparent intention of keeping its millions out of the hands of the UK taxman.
Remember the right-wing press branding Ed Miliband’s father a “traitor to Britain” before the last election because of his Marxist tendencies? Well, doesn’t this put Dave’s dad in much the same boat?
And isn’t it a coincidence that the company was reportedly moved to Ireland in 2010 – the year David became Prime Minister?
Oh, I don’t know, it’s almost as though they knew it would look bad for Dave so put the cash somewhere that still had low tax but looked a bit more acceptable as an overseas base for a British business.
The PM came out this week and insisted neither he, his wife or children are receiving any benefit from dad’s firm, Blairmore Holdings – which is still operating with assets of £35m.
Does that mean they haven’t in the past and won’t in the future? The Prime Minister didn’t make that exactly clear.
But I’m not sure he would have any need of the firm’s money right now anyway.
In the past he’s denied rumours he’s worth £30m but just in terms of property he’s reportedly made £500,000 since he became Prime Minister by renting out his home in the luxury London district of Notting Hill while living at No. 10.
Put it this way, he’s not exactly on his uppers.
Yesterday, Downing Street attempted to defuse the row by stating that David and his family wouldn’t benefit from “offshore” funds in the future.
But does Ireland – where the firm is based now – count as offshore?
It was telling too that it made no mention of his wider family, including his mother Mary.
And Mary Cameron is an interesting woman. Not least because she signed a petition opposing cuts to children’s services in her native Oxfordshire.
Very noble of her, I must say.
Still, I can’t help thinking it’s a bit ironic that her husband set up a firm with the express intention of avoiding paying UK tax – you know, the very money that’s used to fund such services.
The overriding sense is that people like Ian Cameron who set up companies in what Vince Cable once called “sunny places for shady people” don’t think they have done anything wrong.
And, in the eyes of the law, they haven’t. But from a moral point of view the whole thing stinks and shows just how much more needs to be done to make the world a fairer place.
David Cameron likes to talk about fairness, but the truth is the dice were loaded in favour of people like him from the day they were born. His father sought to make sure it stayed that way and his son is doing little to change it.
For all his talk of cracking down on tax avoidance, it’s a culture that’s alive and well in UK territories dotted across the globe.
It leads to the inevitable suspicion that Cameron – and those who surround him – have a vested interest in keeping it like that.
But remember folks, we’re all in this together...
Edoardo abuse tip of iceberg
ON the day Prince Harry named a Yorkshireman as captain of the UK team at his inspirational Invictus Games for injured war heroes, Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino’s son was being slapped with an FA charge for using language that was insulting to the disabled.
Edoardo Cellino, a director at Elland Road, has been charged over offensive comments on social media in which he called a Leeds fan a “spastic”.
The Italian has apologised, claiming in his defence that his emotions got the better of him after receiving “a lot of abusive messages” from disgruntled fans calling on his dad to sell up.
The fact that English isn’t his first language was also trotted out as an excuse, insisting he didn’t understand the “severity of the words”.
Try telling that to the disabled fans who ring the pitch week in, week out. Besides, if he didn’t realise how offensive the term was why did he use it as an insult?
But it’s not just Edoardo who needs to take a look at himself. The 2012 Paralympics were meant to mark a sea change in the way we treat disabled people in Britain.
So far as I can make out, it hasn’t happened. Able-bodied drivers still think nothing of parking in disabled bays. Getting round a city centre in a wheelchair remains bloody hard work.
Meanwhile, two in three young wheelchair users say they don’t use buses and trains because of poor access.
Some legacy, eh?
Surely this is end for X Factor
DEVASTATING news this week as Cheryl Cole – oh, ok Fernandez-Versini – announced she was quitting The X Factor.
No, that wasn’t the devastating news. It was the fact Cheryl says she’s leaving to concentrate on making new “music’.
Still, with Handbag-Lambrini giving X Factor a wide steer and Paloma Faith making noises about leaving The Voice, are we witnessing the end of the age of the talent show?
American Idol over in, er, America, has already been axed and The X Factor seems to be running on life support.
Though at least Cowell’s creation produced some proper pop stars in the shape of One Direction and Little Mix, The Voice over on the Beeb keeps drawing blanks. Leanne Mitchell anyone? Jermain Jackman?
If this is the end, we can comfort ourselves with the fact that every one of us has been “on a journey” while giving it “a million per cent” and, of course, “smashing” it every week.
Follow Grant on Twitter @woodwardworld