Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cameron's hostage to fortune

Whether or not Jimmy Carr is a hypocrite, by condemning his tax avoidance as 'immoral' David Cameron has left one hell of a hostage to fortune (although it's probably worth repeating that, contra the Guardian et al, there's nothing to suggest that DC's father was involved in tax avoidance).

As Hopi Sen says the obvious next step is for the tax arrangements of prominent Tory donors, MPs and even ministers to be held up before the Prime Minister for him to pass moral judgement on them. It's a bit late now for Cameron to pull the "we don't comment on individuals" line, because that's precisely what he's just done.

What makes it all the more galling is that there was a perfectly good way for Cameron to respond, which avoided this pitfall while also pushing the Government message on tax avoidance. The Government is acting a bit like a boxer falling behind on points - so keen on throwing punches tocatch up that it risks leaving its jaw exposed. I mean, do they really want the press on the hunt for every example of low-level tax management that people linked to the Tories have done? Do they want to be endlessly trying to explain that while that sort of avoidance is desperately immoral and wrong, this sort is just fine?

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