The right gets desperate.

How else can you describe the following?

Yes, these are all meant sincerely. Neither conservative MPs nor the conservative media are apparently capable of understanding what’s so abhorrent about flouting one’s social duty and not bothering to pay your share. As long as you can craftily carve out a path which protects you from prosecution, no moral objections may be made. It doesn’t matter if you’re obviously acting contrary to the spirit of the law, directly contradicting the purposes and intentions of the taxation system. If Montgomerie has it his way, you may even be praised for performing such a dodge.

Here’s Toby Young elaborating on his farcical tweet to Jones, trying his very best:

The moral case for forcing the rich to pay more tax isn’t as clear-cut as Shaxson seems to think. One of the more amusing chapters in Treasure Islands concerns the Vesteys, for many years Britain’s wealthiest family, who Shaxson treats as a case study in financial chicanery. But as Edmund Vestey says: “Let’s face it, nobody pays more tax than they have to.”

When you think about it that’s true. And far from being immoral, it’s perfectly rational.

Because if you can prove that a certain act pays financially and thus makes individual economic sense, that means it cannot be wrong. Seriously.

I know Cameron has come out with a condemnation of Carr, but the consensus seems to be that he’ll live to regret it. The Times hasn’t finished its exposures yet, after all. Who’s to say it won’t be Tory MPs or donors on the front page tomorrow? It already feels awkward and opportunistic when he followed it up with silence on Gary Barlow (no doubt his Jubilee involvement exempts him from the public’s anger). And, of course, he was happy to take in (Sir) Philip Green for policy advice and refused to comment on his tax avoidance. Maybe Rees Mogg had this in mind and attempted some damage limitation.

Carr has apologised, by the way. If he’s sincere, he’ll be following it up with a cheque for the Treasury. We can dream.

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One thought on “The right gets desperate.

  1. The “who would pay more tax than they have to?” line is pure debate trickery, because it falls upon the ears of an audience who will (in >99% of cases) be used to having a fairly straightforward tax bill – “I earn x, ergo I need to pay f(x)” – and who are therefore intuitively and pre-reflectively sympathetic to the notion that voluntarily enlarging your tax bill would be a rather odd thing to do. Of course, that’s not what Rees-Mogg, Montgomerie et al are talking about in the slightest. We’re talking about two very different types of act – (1) the act of going out of your way to minimise the amount of tax you pay with the knowledge that you are paying less than the Exchequer intends and (2) the act of simply not voluntarily paying more than you’re meant to if you know you are indeed already paying what you’re meant to. The moral difference between the two is just bloody obvious – unless, as it seems for these chaps, you’re committed by party allegiance to defending avoidance.

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