From the BBC News website, Saturday,April 9
by Sir Thomas Crapper
In the wake of the Panama tax haven leaks, David Cameron should resign.
And his advisors – civil servants, public relations people, special advisors – at Downing Street should hang their heads in shame. They lead him blindfolded into a dark alley, bricked up the exit, and left him there to be humiliated.
Those people, of course, are the same sort of careerist public advisors who never lose their jobs, even though – just for instance – they might have been advising Tony Blair on how to wriggle out of the Iraq Dossier mess.
What has Cameron done? He made a profit of £30,000 on an investment set up by his father. He then declared the profit on his tax return. And then he paid the tax due to HM Treasury.
So why should he resign? We’ll come to that.
But first, some context, as framed by James Quarmby, tax planning expert with law firm, Stephenson Harwood. Quarmby’s take on it is: “Man makes a modest investment and pays all his tax”. Which, as he says, “isn’t very exciting”.
As Quarmby said to John Humphries on the Today programme, Friday morning: “Can you do me a favour, John, and stop using the phrase ‘Offshore Trust’? It’s not a Trust. It’s a Company, incorporated in Panama and is now resident in Ireland.” As such, he said, it’s a hedge fund.
Challenged by Humphries that the average Joe or Johanna in the street doesn’t invest in hedge funds, Quarmby gave him chapter and verse as to how practically every pension fund is invested in hedge funds. Humphries tried to delineate between an ordinary person – who has no control over where their money is invested – and Cameron, who (Humphries implied) had an advantage. All this, of course, ignoring the fact that the whole thing was set up by his father, and not the Prime Minister.
In any event, Quarmby was having none of it. Later, on BBC24, he was rolled out again. Except that this time, the producer should have known what he was going to say, and should have warned his presenter. The presenters were clearly not warned.
At 1m 30secs into the interview (see video clip below), Naga Munchetty literally leans her head down to her hand in obvious frustration that this guy is not playing the game.
All of this, of course, ignores the billions of dollars the Panama leaks have revealed, salted away by world leaders, and clearly stolen from their own citizens. There is no other way to explain the fabulous wealth of some of these people who mostly lead ordinary economies for an ordinary salary.
And what did David Cameron do? He took a £30,000 profit from a company his father set up, declared it on his tax return, and paid the tax. Then he sold the shares he held in the company (so that he could enter Downing Street unencumbered in 2010).
So why should he resign? Well, wouldn’t you? Why would you put up with this level of abuse, ignorance, propaganda and bigotry? At least from Civvy Street he could give the press both barrels and tell John McConnell and Jeremy Corbyn exactly what they can do with their ludicrous ‘charges’.
There is one major character flaw that besets David Cameron, and that is his propensity to play the bully. It is embarrassing to watch, and he lets no-one down more than himself when he gives it full reign.
But essentially, he is a decent man, as displayed by his very public admission on Saturday morning that he had handled the Panama revelations badly. “Don’t blame Number 10 Downing Street or nameless advisors. Blame me.”
Well, you might well say that, David. But we couldn’t possibly agree. Your ratings are down below Jeremy Corbyn’s right now. And why? Because you lost trust this week. And why did you lose trust? Because you were very, very, very badly advised.
You’ll get back up there, whether you stay in position or not. But, honestly, what is it – other than a dedication to public service – that persuades you to stick at it? The answer is probably the EU Referendum. Other than that, it’s a mystery.
Ten percent of Iceland’s electorate took to the streets to demand their Prime Minister resign after he was named in the Panama leaks. By the same token, four million should have take to the streets of London. Instead, it was just ‘thousands’ (obviously no-one could be bothered to count). Which is a measure of how the British public has more sense than its media gives it credit for.