Cameron has always been a political survivor - but this should be his end

11 Apr 2016

 

It doesn't seem like anything can bring David Cameron down. Not a commitment to ideologically driven austerity. Not blatant dishonesty regarding a 7-day NHS or the state of the economy. Not even a budget that featured disability cuts whilst simultaneously containing tax cuts for the rich. No, seemingly nothing can defeat David Cameron. But the revelation that he benefited from his father's offshore trust fund ought to finish him off, for several reasons.

 

Before I go into those reasons, I should make one thing clear - this row is not about David Cameron's late father. It's unfair to criticise him as he is not around to defend himself, and you should not speak ill of the dead. This issue is about the hypocrisy and dishonesty of David Cameron on the issue of tax avoidance and the fact that he had shares in an offshore company that did not pay tax, and would therefore benefit from those shares whilst he held them. Ian Cameron is not the subject of this article, instead it purely focuses on the actions of his son, the Prime Minister. 

 

The first problem is that David Cameron spent most of the week lying, dodging questions and hiding the truth about this. On Monday it was "a private matter," on Tuesday morning he didn't have any shares from which he was benefiting. By Tuesday evening he wasn't currently benefiting from any offshore funds. On Wednesday he wouldn't benefit from anything in the future. And finally, on Thursday, he admitted previously owning shares in his father's offshore trust fund. The lack of honesty and transparency with which Cameron conducted himself is an insult to the British people. He was asked some pretty simple questions and gave some incredibly caveated, slippery answers. The idea that the tax affairs of the Prime Minister (and this PM has frequently criticised those who have used similar schemes to avoid tax) is a "private matter" is ridiculous to say the least. Were Jimmy Carr's tax affairs equally as "private" when you decried what he'd done as "morally wrong" Mr Cameron? I don't think so. 

 

David Cameron is the Prime Minister who has introduced borderline draconian austerity, clamping down on benefits for the poor and disabled. Yet it turns out he had knowingly invested in, and therefore logically benefited and derived profit from, a company that was not paying any tax. He may have sold these shares before becoming Prime Minister, but in a way, that just stinks even more - it makes it seem as if he had something to hide. How can a PM spout the rhetoric of "workers and shirkers" and "morally wrong" tax avoidance whilst knowing full well that he had benefited from what is, effectively, legalised theft and refusal to contribute to public services? Now, David Cameron might claim that Blairmore Holdings was designed to take advantage of the lifting of exchange restrictions in the 1980s (and that may well have been its actual purpose) but there is no doubt that this company made profits upon which no tax was paid. Being a shareholder in that company, he will have derived some sort of profit from it, and being the son of its owner and a willing investor, there is no way that he didn't know Blairmore was paying no tax.  

 

Cameron should go the same way as Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, the Prime Minister of Iceland, and resign. Although their cases differ somewhat, the similarity comes from the fact that they both knowingly benefited from tax avoidance and yet talked about the importance of everyone paying their fair share, particularly, in Cameron's case, the poor. The way he has behaved is deceitful, dishonest, hypocritical, selfish, and downright unacceptable. There is no way to justify benefiting from a tax-avoiding company, whether or not he was directly involved with it, and especially for a Prime Minister. His position is untenable and this scandal now taints any future attempt for him or his government to clamp down on tax avoidance and be taken seriously by corporations like Google who he may wish to force to pay more tax. A YouGov poll reported by the i100 found that 59% of people asked think that the Cameron tax revelations are "highly relevant and taint future policy." David Cameron must now go, and forever be remembered as the hypocritical Prime Minister - who said one thing on tax, and did another. 

 

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