Will Balls Back Tax Transparency?

Given that this was only put down as a 10 Minute Rule Bill in January, Tory MP Ben Gummer’s tax-transparency campaign looks set to be one of the more successful backbench tales of recent times. Given that Labour only managed to find a technicality on which to oppose it when it was debated in the House, can we now presume that Balls will be backing it? The Staggers is already starting to moanWill Balls manage to find a line on why he doesn’t want taxpayers knowing how the government spends their hard earned cash?

Young Campaign Rally Star Calls on Ken to Pay Taxes

Taking time out from photoshopping a fake campaign bus, Ken’s team have been whipping up support for tonight’s “eve of campaign rally” near Waterloo Station. Supporters have been lured in on the promise of speeches from the likes of election-jonah Eddie Izzard, Tessa Jowell and lefty wunderkid Owen Jones. Whoops…

Presumably the Ken team spent at least thirty seconds checking out what these speakers have had to say about Ken before they were invited to share at platform, and presumably Owen Jones is going to be repeating tonight his call for Ken to release his tax returns as he suggested on Sky News last week. Or is he a Chic-Ken?

Incase you missed that Owen says:

“People should always pay their taxes, there’s absolutely no excuse whatsoever for tax loopholes, tax avoidance and that goes for Ken Livingstone, it goes for Boris Johnson and it goes for anyone else… I think all mayoral candidates, I think that would be perfectly good, perfectly positive, if they release their tax returns… I’ve made it clear there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever.”

Chic-Ken is still refusing to do that…

There was one tiny silver lining for Ken though – when pushed Owen says that despite being a hypocrite, the tax mess does not rule Ken out of the race.

Hopefully Owen will have honed that line in time for the rally tonight…

Harman Bashed on Bankers Tax

Ed had his own muddles at his speech today, but this from his deputy is quite something:

Guido could watch this one again and again.

Labour Leadership Dodging Ken Tax Trouble

Guido just asked the two Eds about Ken Livingstone’s tax status at their joint press conference. Calling it a “desperate Tory smear” it was telling that Miliband had to stress it was all legal and pointed up that Boris was running a negative campaign. He might want to check some of the material being put out by his own party…

Nobody is suggesting that Ken has done anything illegal, just that he is a massive hypocrite. Guido even suggested that both the candidates release their tax returns, but it seems Labour are sticking to the blind eye approach on this one. Whether the public will be so forgiving of hypocrisy remains to be seen.

Following up, Guido asked Miliband about cancelling an appearance at an NHS rally on Saturday, citing illness, yet being spotted in the chairman’s box at Hull vs Ipswich that afternoon. Apparently it goes without saying that Ed loves the NHS more than football. You could have fooled the people of Hull…

Labour Openly Uneasy About Deceitful Ken
“Your relentless cynicism is matched only by your hypocrisy”

Labour’s rapid rebuttal re-education squad are having kittens with the latest lefty figure to tell the truth about Ken Livingstone. This morning we had the Political Editor of the New Statesman call Ken  a hypocrite, and now Jonathan Roberts, a Labour Parliamentary candidate, sums up on Labour Uncut what any Labour member with a spine must be thinking:

“Your supporters will say I’m disloyal to the Labour Party, but don’t seem to mind you campaigning against our candidate in Tower Hamlets.Your supporters cheered you when you called tax avoiders “rich bastards”, but they don’t seem to mind the £50,000 you have allegedly avoided yourself. Your supporters criticise Boris Johnson as a “part time Mayor” for churning out a weekly article for the Telegraph, but they don’t seem to mind that you were an MP and a writer for the Independent during substantial parts of your own Mayoral tenure.

Your relentless cynicism and negativity is matched only by your hypocrisy. And I mind all three.

It bothers me that people think you are the last bastion of Labourness. It bothers me that you think you are the last bastion of Labourness. It bothers me that because I am a proud member of this party, I am expected to give up countless hours of my life to fight through the rain and cold to campaign for a man who has made so many anti-west comments that Iranian state television gave him his own TV show.”

The whole letter is well worth a read. If Ken’s own activist base is running for the hills, it’s going to be big ask for floating voters to return a hypocrite…

Labour Left is Ashamed of Ken

The self-appointed moral arbiter of the left, Mehdi Hasan, has broken cover in the Staggers and ruined Ken’s morning:

The big problem for Livingstone is that he has been a vocal supporter of UK Uncut, which campaigns against not just (illegal) tax evasion but also (legal) tax avoidance – by Vodafone, Topshop and other big companies. “These rich bastards just don’t get it,” Livingstone wrote in 2009. “No one should be allowed to vote in a British election, let alone sit in our parliament, unless they are paying their full share of tax.” The former London mayor called for everyone to “pay tax at the same rate on their earnings and all other income”.

The word “hypocrite” is being whispered – and not just by the usual suspects on the right. 

The simple truth is this: you cannot run as the populist, banker-bashing candidate, the one who backs higher taxes on “rich bastards”, if you’re quietly channelling hundreds of thousands of pounds of your own earnings into a company jointly owned with your wife. You just can’t.

Hasan recommends that Ken gets his chequebook out and pops down to the HMRC with a camera crew. What are you afraid of Ken?

Exclusive: Gov Response to Ken Slams Company Tax

Ken wrote to the Prime Minister asking for a change in the law so that the Mayor of London could only have one job. The reply fell under the purview of Grant Shapps:

Dear Ken,

Thank you for your letter of 27 February 2012 to the Prime Minister; he has asked me to reply on his behalf as the Greater London Authority Act is the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government.

I have considered your request carefully, but my department has no plans to amend legislation in this way.

I believe the electorate are best placed to make judgments on whether elected representatives are able to pursue other interests in their spare time. Indeed, it would be quite illiberal to pass laws restricting and regulating what individuals can do in their evenings and on weekends.

Indeed, the effect of your proposed regulations would have meant you were unable to serve as Mayor of London when you were first elected in 2000, since you were a Member of Parliament, had paid columns in The Independent and the Evening Standard, had a book contract with Victor Gollancz, and received five-figure sums from after-dinner speaking agencies. Subsequently, during the period you were Mayor, you had a continuing commercial interest in Localaction Ltd, receiving payments for television, radio and writing.

In this context, I view your new-found interest in this issue to be wholly inconsistent and a further argument against ill-thought-out regulation. Calling for regulation on ‘full-time mayors’ whilst running a part-time company is as consistent as calling for a clampdown on tax dodging whilst using a company to avoid paying income tax.

Obviously, outside interests must open and transparent – and the Coalition Government has taken steps through the Localism Act 2011 and the new local government Transparency Code to entrench such transparency in law. I would note that the Greater London Authority has been at the forefront of promoting the transparency agenda in the last four years, such as being the first local government body to start publishing its spending online.

Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
Minister of State for Housing and Local Government

Well Guido laughed…

The Former Coalition Ministers Club

What becomes of disgraced coalition cabinet members after they are forced to resign? Well if this morning is anything to go by it seems they perform a pincer movement on George Osborne, calling for tax cuts.

If Huhne weighed in it would be a full house…

While there is an irony about Fox complaining it is too hard to sack people, he makes some good points in the FT:

The budget must confidently assert that capitalism works. But it doesn’t work if failure is rewarded as if it was success. …individual risk and effort is not rewarded when the UK government share of GDP has risen from 38 per cent in 1999 to 51 per cent in 2011, the effective top rate of tax is over 50 per cent, and CPI inflation for the last five years has averaged 3.5 per cent.To restore Britain’s competitiveness we must begin by deregulating the labour market. Political objections must be overridden.

In the GuardianDavid Laws follows up Monday’s Newsnight outing with a welcome call to speed up taking the poorest out of tax. He wants to put up taxes though to fund it. Hmm…

A cynical person might think this must be coordinated, but Guido isn’t so sure. There’s no doubt that Laws’ interventions are sanctioned by his leader, though Guido doubts the same can be said be said for Fox. Steve Hilton will like it, but No.11 sources seem rather relaxed about the whole affair this morning…

Clegg’s Progressive £10,000 Threshold Hike
Benefits Low Income Earners Most

A lot of chaff is being thrown up about the £10,000 tax threshold hike being pushed by Clegg this morning. Matthew Sinclair over at the Taxpayers’ Alliance has sent this chart proving the point Guido has been making all day. […]

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Tax Transparency Bill Gets Second Reading

Ben Gummer’s tax transparency 10 Minute Rule Bill was just passed in the House and will come back for a second reading in March. Chris Bryant stood  up to oppose it on the grounds that “there are better things we […]

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A Taxing Question for Labour

The fact that polling shows that 69% of voters support the benefit cap, leaves Guido wondering about the other 31%. If taxpayers knew how much they were personally contributing to these handouts, you would imagine that 31% figure would be […]

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Toffs Taxing the Poor More

Minimum alcohol pricing won’t affect champagne drinkers, it will hit those on lower incomes. Again.

Regressive taxes aren’t just about forcing up the price of supermarket booze, it was putting up VAT – a mistake that boosted inflation which was […]

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