After promising to make this campaign about substance and decrying distractions, Ken’s tears stunt has backfired. Tonight 1.6 million Londoners will see this picture of an exhausted and tired old man in tears on the front page of the Standard. Hardly a vote winning look. As one exasperated member of the campaign team put it “it’s impressive to make Ed look like the competent one.”
Newt tried it, so did Santorum, as did Hillary and now Ken:
Don’t cry for me Venezuela…
UPDATE: Full marks to the Standard for this gem of a headline:
Last night Ken promised on Newsnight to publish his accounts. He further said this morning “I will set out income to my company over the last four years, how much my wife and I received and how much tax was paid.” Instead we got a partial view of what he decided to pay tax on. Ken also claims that an accountant has signed these figures off, yet provides no evidence for this unlike the other candidates. He has still not published his company accounts and the clock is ticking.
Guido’s been speaking to bean counters today who are slightly puzzled by what Ken has put out. One writes:
“a) no book-keeper, let alone an accountant, has been near this – you never date down the left hand side – you run left to right;
b) Corporation Tax is paid on profits, not dividends – massive f**k-up here – tells you all you need to know about the integrity of these accounts.”
The meta-data on the .PDF document shows that it was drawn up not by an accountant, but by Mark Watts- Ken’s old Climate Change Adviser at City Hall. He got one of the crony pay-offs in 2008.
Apart from the 14.5% effective income tax rate – which Matthew Hancock points out is less than a City Hall cleaner pays – the main take-away from the part-publication is that by paying himself in dividends he is avoiding paying National Insurance, which employees have to pay. If you are employed you pay it at 12%. If you are self employed you pay it at 9%. If you are Ken, you don’t pay it at all.
He cannot say he is paying his fair share when he is avoiding paying National Insurance, which is the tax that pays towards the NHS. The question for Ken is a simple one. Why are you paying yourself in dividends rather than salary? There is only one answer. To avoid tax.
Boris’ figures have the accountants signature on them and Paddick has put his actual returns, plus a few personal details, out. Why so dodgy Ken?
Labour have often denied they use command and control techniques on Twitter, yet strangely their Shadow Ministers, MPs and activists always end up singing from the same hymn sheet. Guido has long suspected this unity is fake and that lines to take are pushed out by spinners. Well it turns out that hunch was right:
From: “Tom Copley KenLivingstone.com”
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2012 13:47:37
Subject: Ken’s tax and income: urgent online engagement
Details of Ken’s tax and income – signed off by his accountant – is now online here:
This shows that last year he paid the full income tax required on all his earnings at a rate of 35%. This is higher than Brian Paddick but lower than Boris Johnson because unlike Johnson Ken does not fall into the 50p tax bracket.
Guido Fawkes is using dodgy maths to try and claim that Ken only paid 14.5% in income tax last year:
This is deliberately misleading. They’ve calculated this figure by dividing the amount Ken paid in tax on dividends by all the money in the company. This is ridiculous – Ken does not own the whole company and money in the company was used to employ other members of staff. Ken has paid the full income tax required on all the money he has taken out of the company as shown in the accounts.
The truth on Ken’s taxes, from that “left-wing stalwart” the Spectator (of which Boris Johnson was a former editor) – is here:
We need you to urgently engage @GuidoFawkes, @MrHarryCole, @DaveMorgan25, @BackBoris2012 and @Boris_Backer on Twitter to rebut their lies. Please tweet the link to the Spectator article too.
Digital Campaigns Coordinator
Ken Livingstone for London
How’s that urgent engagement going?
UPDATE: Well badly is the answer. The Spectator have now updated the article that Labour were so keen to push:
“It seems Ken’s campaign is trying to use our chart as proof that he isn’t avoiding tax. It isn’t. Our figures for Ken are simply the amount he’s declared he pays in tax divided by his declared personal income. It’s what he claims his effective tax rate is, not what we claim it is.”
Urgent engagement required.
Ed Staite is not taking the coming Sunday Times sting lying down. He has this morning published the written proposal he made to the undercover journalists posing as “Global Zenith”. He pitched £40,000 for an “Issues and Crisis Preparedness Plan” which looks pretty standard spinner’s stuff. The way Staite is handling the sting with his pre-buttal shows he is good in a crisis…
Unite assistant General Secretary Diana Holland is getting a lot of coverage today due to the ongoing chaos her union is threatening, not over the price of fuel but how much money already well paid drivers get to distribute it. What the TV news seem to be ignoring is that she is also the Treasurer of the Labour Party.
Labour try to suggest the connection to their biggest donor is arms length, but Holland is about as plugged in as they come. Her husband Joe Irvine was a Commander of the Forces of Hell as Brown’s Political Secretary and also the “brains” behind Ed Balls For Leader. Cosy!
With Miliband and Balls twisting the knife by going to Greggs for lunch, Cameron’s claims to have had a pasty at Leeds station are looking increasingly dodgy:
It’s shaping out to be a terrible week. And it’s only Wednesday…
UPDATE: PM’s spokesman says “maybe it wasn’t even Leeds”.
Well in his head at least…