Dr. and St. Vince Cable has said he made “an honest mistake” over his VAT avoidance and that it was “embarrassing and I should have spotted it sooner”. He’s attempting to make this look like a one-off piece of financial mismanagement in order to minimise the obvious “if he can’t run his own business affairs, why should anyone else listen to him” line of questioning. But is this case really a one-off?
A look at Vince’s parliamentary expenses claims from the last few years show a trail of financial mismanagement. His claims are littered with with late fees, reminder letters and overdue notices. His electricity supplier, British Gas and BT have all sent letters stating their intention to disconnect him for non-payment. It appears he also thought it appropriate to charge the taxpayer for £240 of fines for not paying his fees on time. By Guido’s count there were nineteen late notices or threats in 05-06, thirteen in 06-07, and eight in 07-08. Were these honest mistakes too, or complete incompetence?