ANDREW PIERCE: A very taxing revelation for saintly Clegg
As Deputy Prime Minister, the holier-than-thou Nick Clegg made huge play of how his Lib Dems forced their Tory Coalition partners to crack down on tax avoidance.
Offshore tax havens, in particular, were his target, when he said: ‘There are millions of people who pay their taxes . . . who are rightly angered that there is a wealthy elite . . . who can pay an army of tax accountants to get out of paying their fair share of tax.’
However, I suggest that sanctimonious Cleggy should take a close look at his own financial affairs. He has set up a not-for-profit company to further his work outside Parliament (such as his forthcoming grandly titled book Politics: The Art Of The Possible In An Age Of Unreason). One of the firm’s donors is Virgin Group Holdings, part of Sir Richard Branson’s empire.
And where is Virgin Group Holdings based? The British Virgin Islands, where income is not taxed. This is confirmed in Clegg’s own declaration of interests, which gives the donor company’s address as: PO Box 71, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
Perhaps a chapter in Clegg’s book new book will cover the murky world of Lib Dem funding. But don’t hold your breath!
I’m intrigued by what State secrets former Cabinet minister Vince Cable could have consigned to history after he spent £162 of taxpayers’ money on ‘office shredding/removing data’.
Chancellor George Osborne arrived by private helicopter for a Tory fundraising dinner at the Gothic-style Clearwell Castle (‘the premier wedding venue in Gloucestershire’). Not exactly the type of transport in keeping with the contents of his speech . . . about why it’s vital to cut tax credits for some of the lower paid.
Chancellor George Osborne arrived by private helicopter… to deliver a speech about why it’s vital to cut tax credits for some of the lower paid
Former Tory deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft has been speaking of a secret wish that he had been a 16th-century explorer. Talking to Antiques Trade Gazette about his collection of Victoria Crosses (the biggest in the world), he was asked what he would have been if he hadn’t gone into business and politics. He replied: ‘I am naturally inquisitive, energetic and outgoing. I would love to have been an explorer. If I had lived nearly 500 years ago, I can imagine myself sailing around the world on behalf of Elizabeth I and trying to discover and explore uninhabited areas of the world on behalf of Queen and country.’
Labour’s former acting leader Harriet Harman is enjoying life on the backbenches, telling The Spectator magazine: ‘Instead of sweating over Prime Minister’s Questions. I tweet pictures of my kittens.’
Labour’s former acting leader Harriet Harman tweets pictures of kittens from the backbenches
Labour MP Tulip Siddiq has been lamenting how cuts in police numbers have forced her constituents in Hampstead, North London, to launch an appeal for £600,000 to pay for five police officers. She was being interviewed by BBC radio on a mobile phone and had to move to a nearby police station precinct to get a better signal. Of course, there was no shortage of officers there. They demanded to look at her phone to check she wasn’t a security snooper. Tulip says: ‘They were just doing their job, but it was ironic, given what I was talking about.’
BLUNDER THAT GAVE US THE HUMP
Challenged to name his biggest political clanger after 45 years in Westminster, Tory grandee Ken Clarke says: ‘I’m always very guarded about that. Nowadays, politicians are not allowed to get away with their confessions of failure.’
But he did confess to the Durham University newspaper, the Palatinate, that he regretted, in his first departmental job (in the transport ministry) introducing much-hated road humps.
Most people, though, would say his biggest blunder was his obsession with trying to get Britain to join the Euro (which cost him his chances of becoming Tory leader).
Fresh from admitting that he once smoked cannabis, Tory MP James Cleverly (Braintree) has been talking about the game Snog, Marry, Avoid (which forces you to choose one of those options with a range of people whose names are put to you). When given Labour rival Yvette Cooper’s name, he answered: ‘Marry.’ I wonder how her pugnacious house-husband Ed Balls has reacted!
Mixed metaphor of the week: London Mayor and Tory MP Boris Johnson describing the expected debates surrounding the EU referendum: ‘Parliament is a hotbed of cold feet.’ It’s pity, though, that he nicked the phrase (uncredited) from Yes Minister’s Sir Humphrey Appleby.