Labour's Taxing Line

Hardly a week ever goes by without Labour failing to label a reform to welfare handouts as “a tax”. This week everyone has fallen in line behind the phrase “bedroom tax”:

With Andrew Dilnot clearing up the debt and deficit confusion earlier, in the interests of accuracy and Guido’s sanity, he’s sending these confused souls back to school. Here is the dictionary definition of a ‘tax’:

“a compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government on workers’ income and business profits, or added to the cost of some goods, services, and transactions.”

The so-called “bedroom tax” will see tenants in social housing who are deemed to be under-occupying their homes lose part of their housing benefit. See the difference?

The “bedroom tax” is not a tax at all, but actually a welfare transfer. If you are under-occupying your social housing you do not have to pay the state any money, you will simply receive a smaller handout from the taxpayer. But then Owen, and Kevin and Ian and Ed and Rachel all knew this already. 

The same applies to the nanny ‘tax’, the mummy ‘tax’, and all the other fake ‘taxes’ Labour types are inventing, a long with that imaginary “cheque” Cameron “wrote” to all those millionaires. This sort of misinformation is exactly why people hate politicians. They know what they are doing: being deliberately stupid to scare voters…

Flashback: Hodge the Dodge Hypocrisy in Full

Margaret Hodge is currently interrogating the ‘Big 4’ professional services firms at the Public Accounts Committee. The tax avoidance witch hunt moral arbiter says she has evidence that PriceWaterhouseCooper are using a “tax efficient operating model”, where they have set up AOL-style structures in tax havens like Luxembourg. Guido feels it is only fair to remind readers of Hodge the Dodge’s double standards.

All this hasn’t stopped her writing holier-than-thou letters to lefty magazines though…

One Term Tories II

Way back in August 2011 Guido wrote an article – One Term Tories – predicting that if the economy didn’t get going the Tories would not win in 2015. This was before it was fashionable, before Ed Miliband’s “One Nation” speech when he was still considered a joke by the Tories and well before the bookies made Labour favourites to be the largest party.  The article was re-tweeted furiously by the likes of Peter Hain and other Labourites who pretend not to read this blog.

Last night’s vote embedded Labour’s electoral advantage, psephologist Anthony Wells says the current constituency boundaries give the Tories a 7% to 11% electoral handicap depending on how the LibDems perform. Is Cameron doomed?

If the answer the electorate give to Ronald Reagan’s Are you better off than you were four years ago?” question is “No”, they probably are not going to be the largest party in 2015. This fact should concentrate minds in Downing Street more than any other issue, not Europe, gay marriage, HS2, Heathrow runways or any of the other side issues. Getting the economy growing is all that matters.

The government is going down a Keynesian path accelerating capital infrastructure projects – most of which will be shovel-ready in time to hand an incoming Labour government a growth boost. Ed Balls, the IMF, the editor of City A.M. Allister Heath and Guido all agree that an immediate stimulus would come from tax cuts. The Treasury resists the idea because it will widen the deficit. Well they are going to miss the deficit target anyway, you might as well miss it for the right reasons.

We can argue about what kind of tax cuts are best, Ed Balls and the IMF say a temporary VAT cut. Guido favours income tax rate cuts and threshold hikes, Allister Heath wants job creating cuts in business taxes. The Taxpayers’ Alliance revealed this week that the Coalition has raised 299 taxes. A flat-lining economy needs the government to get off its back and stimulate the economy, now.

MPs to Debate "Great Gordon Brown Repeal Bill"

How good it was of the Prime Mentalist to turn up yesterday. Here is one he will no doubt want to skip however: the Great Gordon Brown Repeal bill is to be debated in Parliament next week. The proposal to reverse Labour’s scrapping of the 10p tax rate will be discussed by MPs at 2:30pm next Tuesday. Guido hears Gordon will be receiving a formal invitation…

Russia Trolls France

Gerard Depardieu must be pretty desperate in his bid to flee Hollande’s socialism: he has been granted Russian citizenship by Vladimir Putin.

The former communist is now offering tax asylum to western Europe’s rich and famous. Russia’s 13% income tax rate is one sixth as oppressive as Francois Hollande’s unconstitutional 75% supertax. A sign of the changing times, Putin’s announcement was made via Twitter:

Trolling on an international scale…

Happy New Jarre

Not a bad way to kick off 2013: a world exclusive followed up by papers at home and abroad. Le Figaro and Le Monde reported Guido’s story that French rock star Jean Michel Jarre was considering “exil fiscal”. Amusingly Guido even beat HuffPo France to the story. En retard!

jarre

This side of the channel the Guardian picked it up despite initial scepticism, with the Mail and the Telegraph following suit. Happy new year…

World Exclusive: Jean Michel Jarre Says Au Revoir Socialism Rock Star’s Secret Downing Street Talks About London Move

JARRE

Jean Michel Jarre, the only French global rock star, has been into Downing Street to discuss moving to London to escape Francois Hollande’s tax hikes. The French President wants confiscatory 75% tax rates for high earners.

In secrecy Jarre recently visited Number 10 to discuss his “defection”. The news that Downing Street is involved in discussions with another high profile tax exile from France will cause outrage in the Elysee Palace. Gerard Depardieu’s planned flight from Paris to a small village less than half a mile across the Belgian border caused an uproar and French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault  went so far as to call him “pathetic.”

gerarDepardieu countered that “I am leaving because you believe that success, creation, talent, anything different must be sanctioned”. Cinema legends such as Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Denueve quickly jumped in with statements of support for Depardieu. The rock star’s move comes shortly after Bernard Arnault, CEO of luxury giant LVMH and France’s richest man, national hero Johnny Hallyday and actor Alain Delon have also left France for tax reasons. London estate agents report French investment bankers, private equity financiers and high paid entrepreneurs making inquiries.

hollande-no-10When Hollande announced his 75% tax rate plan Cameron joked that he would “roll out the red carpet” for French tax exiles to the expressed annoyance of the Elysee Palace. French ministers widely criticised Cameron. The news that it was not mere rhetoric and Downing Street would literally welcome French rock star tax exiles onto the red carpet at No. 10 will infuriate President Hollande…

UPDATE: Downing Street were at lunchtime knocking down this story, by late afternoon they changed their synthesiser tune and said Jarre was indeed in talks to move his technology company to the government sponsored Tech City in London. Where the taxes are lower…

Guido’s Downing Street source says “He’s been into No. 10 to talk to us about defection – it’s like a crappy old spy movie…” The channel replacing the Berlin Wall, with French capitalists fleeing socialist France for freedom…

David Miliband and the Ugandan Tax Row

milibandDavid Miliband’s links to a controversial oil company that makes its billions in Uganda are back in the news today. The £500,000-a-year globe-trotter has faced scrutiny for his role in securing sponsorship for Sunderland FC from Tullow Oil, an oil giant that has in the past been accused of driving villagers from their homes and bribing officials. Today the Ugandan government is alleging that they have taken huge sums of money out of the poverty-stricken country by allegedly not paying an 18% tax imposed on its mining machinery. Tullow is requesting that the dispute be referred for arbitration.

Maybe a certain former Foreign Secretary can use his diplomacy expertise to help them reach a resolution…

Hundreds Call On Hodge the Dodge To Answer Questions

Tweet #HodgetheDodge

CLICK

Last night Guido’s twitter campaign to force Margaret Hodge into answering our tax questions saw hundreds of readers demand a response from the question-dodging MP. Under the hashtag #HodgeTheDodge, hundreds of tweeters flooded the Public Accounts Committee chair’s Twitter account with questions about her Stemcor shareholdings. The people have spoken, now it is up to Hodge to answer them. Guido will be waiting. In the meantime you can continue to keep up the pressure by clicking here

See also:

Tell Hodge the Dodge to Answer Guido’s Questions

CLICKGuido emailed over his questions to Margaret Hodge again today, alas once more he has heard nothing back.

You can help pile the pressure on Hodge to stop dodging our questions by joining the growing number of others tweeting her on the #HodgeTheDodge hashtag.

Click here

Miller Car Crash Interview Raises More Expenses Questions

Maria Miller has been well and truly skewered by the Standard this afternoon during an interview in which she tried to play down allegations about her expenses. Did Sir Thomas Legg, the man who carried out the first independent audit into her second home claims, know that her parents lived in the property? “I obviously spoke to the Fees Office about my claims and they were happy that everything was in order”. Hardly a yes.

Who was the second independent auditor? Joe Murphy reports that “The Culture Secretary replied that it was the Conservative Party which “audited all Conservative MPs’ expenses”.  Her definition of independent may raise some eyebrows as the Tory panel was headed by the then Chief Whip and David Cameron’s chief of staff”. Most suspect of all was Miller’s answer to the charge that her decision to stop claiming just as the expenses scandal broke was more than coincidence:

“”I think there was a lot of concern about the rules and, er, a lot of concern about, you know, the whole issue, and it’s something I felt that I didn’t want to be, sort of, mixed up in, the fact that I …”  Mrs Miller finally stopped trying to explain herself, and simply said:  “I just made that decision.””

She will have to do better than that when John Lyon comes calling…

Why Guido Won’t Be Apologising to Hodge the Dodge

This morning the Telegraph issued a carefully-worded apology to question-dodging Margaret Hodge:

hodge“Contrary to our report “Hodge faces challenge over family firm’s taxes” (Nov 20), Stemcor, in which Ms Hodge has a small shareholding, has not abused transfer pricing to avoid tax. We accept that there is no inconsistency or hypocrisy in Ms Hodge criticising other companies for tax avoidance and apologise to her for any contrary impression.”

Note the very specific assertion that Stemcor did not abuse transfer pricing to avoid tax. Guido never made that claim. The paper’s willingness to describe a million pound plus shareholding as “small” is odd, and crucially there is no mention of Hodge’s use of shares held in trusts. She has still yet to reply to our repeated questions, which followed a very different line to the Telegraph’s accusations and have been sent again to her today. Guido stands by everything we have written.

Hodge the Dodge v The Shadow Cabinet

ed-balls-hodge

Last week Guido noted how question-dodging Margaret Hodge was at odds with Chuka Umunna over his use of a £20,000 analyst from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Despite Hodge having worked for the company herself in the past, she suggested that PwC should no longer be given government contracts due to their collusion in “aggressive tax avoidance”Unfortunately for the chair of the Public Accounts Committee, her shadow cabinet bosses have failed to adopt such a noble position.

In the latest Register of Members’ Interests Ed Balls declares that he  has taken on a PwC analyst until March next year, with their £88,060 wage paid for by the company. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing…

Starbucks Solidarity

st pauls

The unwashed hordes who support UK Uncut will be harassing low-paid workers in Starbucks today. It seems like only yesterday that the Occupy crowd were queuing up outside the St Paul’s branch for a fair trade skinny decaf. If you are doing a bit of Christmas shopping today maybe pop in and show some solidarity with the workers…

MILT: Mums I’d Like To Tax

It’s taken some time but it seems the Labour kickback machine is getting into gear. The dividing lines are being drawn over the whether or not Labour back the Welfare Uprating Bill that will apparently be published this side of Christmas. In the meantime a nice row is brewing over the so called “Mummy Tax”. After granny and pasties, hidden hits are de rigueur these days. A friend of Ed Balls tells Guido this morning:

“Osborne effectively branding mums, taking time out from work to be with their new baby, as work-shy benefit scroungers is a big political mistake.”

Guido is not sure how a reduction in hand-outs is a “tax”, but the issue is certainly potent. Mumsnet will be unbearable today…

Halfon to Campaign for ‘Great Gordon Brown Repeal Bill’

gordonToday’s Indy reports on rumours that fuel duty campaigner Rob Halfon will turn to the 10p tax rate for his next trick. Guido can confirm that Halfon will push George Osborne to repeal Gordon Brown’s abolition of the 10p rate, bringing it back for everyone earning under £15,000. The move is inspired by work done by the ASI to produce a living wage through tax cuts rather than wage fixing. Halfon will lobby the treasury to make the move by the 2013 budget, 2014 failing that. A friend of Halfon tells Guido that Gordon’s 10p rate abolition was a “reckless, lunatic thing to do, Robert wants to put that right”. They’re calling it the Great Gordon Brown Repeal Bill…

Margaret Hodge Worked for PriceWaterhouse

When Margaret Hodge went off on one about the ‘Big 4’ professional services firms this morning, she awkwardly forgot that half the shadow cabinet have employed staffers from PricewaterhouseCoopers during the last year. Could there be anything else languishing deep down in Hodge’s memory that she needs reminding of? Something that happened before she became an MP, perhaps? Maybe to do with a past career choice?

Between 1992 and 1994 Hodge worked as a senior consultant for, you guessed it, PriceWaterhouse, as they were known before the 1998 merger with Coopers & Lybrand. Guido would ask what her duties were, but she’d probably just dodge the question…

Hodge the Dodge: Satire is Dead

Question-dodging Margaret Hodge had some nerve asking the PM about tax avoidance today, and when she got her phone out to tweet afterwards the irony knew no bounds:

Never mind the fact that she still hasn’t answered Guido’s repeated questions about her own tax arrangements. Come on Margaret, what was that about failing to answer questions? 

Broke Guardian Selling the Rest of the Auto Trader Silver

Somehow Sky beat the Media Guardian to the story in their own backyard – GMG are selling their remaining 50% stake in Auto Trader for up to £600m. Things must be getting really bad…

Of course it was the sale of the first chunk of the car classifieds goldmine that employed the finest tax avoidance techniques known to the Cayman Islands. Guido will be watching this sale closely…

Bring It On Hodge

Margaret Hodge told the Daily Politics that she will be taking action against anyone that points out that her  family firm Stemcor pays very little corporation tax on a billion pound turnover. Yet, she will still not explain the exact nature of her “tiny, tiny, tiny” shareholdings worth several million pounds and the trusts involved.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Angela Rayner on Labour’s economic policy (via Speccie):

“It is a bit of a sh*t-or-bust strategy…”

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