In 2012 David Cameron reacted to the tax-dodging activities of the comedian Jimmy Carr by saying that "Tax-dodging is morally wrong", in May 2013 he said that he was "opposed to all aggressive tax avoidance", in April 2016 when the Panama Papers were leaked he said that offshore tax secrecy is "not morally acceptable", yet in the six years his government have been in power, nothing serious has been done to stop it.
If you are the kind of gullible person who takes the words of politicians at face value without engaging your critical judgement you might imagine that the Tories are sincere, and that they have actually been clamping down on the tax-dodging activities of multinational corporations and the super-wealthy minority, but you'd be completely wrong. They've made a few token gestures, but under David Cameron's watch only one out of the 1,000+ people caught up in the Swiss HSBC tax-dodging scandal has faced prosecution and multinational corporations have continued to get away with shifting their UK profits overseas in order to avoid paying tax here.
The Tories know that the tax-dodging activities of corporations and the super-rich are an issue that the public feel very strongly about, but they've assumed that the general public are so gullible that they'll simply believe it if the Tories do nothing more than say that they're getting tough on tax-dodging, whilst simultaneously benefiting from tax-dodging themselves, and even actively facilitating the tax-dodging activities of others.
In this article I'm going to give a few examples that prove that Tory party statements on tax-dodging are just empty rhetoric and deliberate misdirection.
David Cameron is a direct beneficiary of tax-dodging as a result of inheriting £300,000 from his father, which was made via a network of offshore "investment funds" in places like Panama and Geneva, which were explicitly designed to help wealthy people avoid paying UK tax. [source]
David Cameron's wife works for Smythson, which is a leather goods and luxury stationary company that is based in Luxembourg for the purposes of avoiding tax, and controlled via a network of other shell companies based in the British tax havens of Jersey and Guernsey. [source]
David Cameron was educated at the most elitist private school in the United Kingdom, which charges more than the average annual wage in tuition fees (currently £34,500 per year). What many people don't realise is that since November 2010 this elitist training camp for the children of the establishment is registered as a charity for the purpose of avoiding tax.
Within a week of David Cameron publicly condemning the tax-dodging activities of Jimmy Carr, he absolutely refused to make a similar public condemnation of the former Take That member Gary Barlow when it was revealed that he too had been using an elaborate scheme to avoid paying UK tax. It hardly seems like a coincidence that Gary Barlow is a very high profile Tory party supporter. [source]
British tax havens
Several of the biggest tax havens in the world are British Crown dependencies and overseas territories (Cayman Islands, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man ...). If the UK government had been serious they could have forced these places to clean up their acts any time in the last six years, but they choose not to, presumably because they're actually happy that the super-wealthy global elite choose to stash their ill-gotten gains in British territories rather than in non-British ones.
The City of London
London is indisputably the global capital of the tax avoidance industry. If an individual or corporate entity want to avoid paying tax in whatever jurisdiction, there's always plenty of London tax lawyers to advise them on how to set up the chain of shell companies they need in order to make their wealth "evaporate" and reappear in some secretive offshore bank account. This industry exists to service the selfishness of the super-rich. They help the super-rich avoid paying tax, then take a slice of that money for themselves in fees. The idea of David Cameron and the Tories clamping down on the tax avoidance industry is laughable because the Tory party take huge amounts in donations from the beneficiaries of such services.
Not only do HSBC have a track record of helping wealthy UK citizens dodge paying their tax, they've also ripped off their own customers with the PPI fraud, rigged the Libor and Forex markets, channelled funds to terrorist organisations and laundered hundreds of billions of dollars for murderous Mexican drug cartels.
David Cameron has numerous links to HSBC. Not only have the holders of HSBC Swiss accounts donated £5 million to the Tory party, but Cameron also handed the former HSBC boss Stephen Green a place in the unelected House of Lords and appointed him as the Trade and Investment minister. In February 2015 when the HSBC tax-dodging scandal reignited, Cameron refused to answer a simple question about whether he had ever discussed HSBC tax-dodging with Stephen Green four times in a single debate.
One of the things that really puts the Tory rhetoric on combating tax-dodging into perspective is the fact that they have ruthlessly cut the number of HMRC staff working to recover tax from high net worth individuals. Not only does this totally undermine their "tough on tax-dodging" rhetoric, it's also a display of economic illiteracy because cutting the jobs of tax investigators who recover far more than their salaries in unpaid tax each year is almost the definition of a false economy. [source]
Since coming to power in 2010 David Cameron has handed out peerages to a whole load of Tory party donors. Several of these wealthy Tory donors that Cameron has stuffed into the unelected and anti-democratic House of Lords are tax-dodgers.
One of the most notable examples of Cameron's unelected tax-dodging Lords is Stanley Fink, who at first threatened to sue Ed Miliband for saying that he had avoided tax, only to change his tune and admit that he had been dodging tax, but that it was Okay because it was only "vanilla" tax avoidance, that it is "normal in British society" because "everyone does it". [source]
Despite harping on about how much they oppose tax-dodging, the Tories have actually opened up a number of new tax loopholes for the benefit of British businesses seeking to avoid paying tax. One of the most egregious of these new loopholes was a scheme announced in the 2013 budget to allow British companies to avoid paying tax in 3rd world countries by shifting their profits into tax havens.
Distracting public attention
Instead of taking the revelations about the Tory Party accepting millions of pounds in funding from tax-dodgers, David Cameron desperately tried to distract attention away from the scandal by announcing social security sanctions for benefits claimants who are deemed by the state to be overweight.
There is a damn good reason that the Tory party and the right-wing press love to fixate on people like benefits claimants and immigrants as if they're the biggest problems in society instead of dealing with the bankers who wrecked the economy, the corporate fat cats who are enriching themselves at a faster rate than ever whilst contributing to the longest sustained decline in wages since records began, and the tax-dodgers who cost the country tens of billions a year by hiding their wealth in offshore accounts.
The reason that the Tories are always so keen to distract attention away from the much more serious problem of tax-dodging is that the people responsible are David Cameron's donors. They are the people that the Tory party exists in order to serve. There's absolutely no way that David Cameron could turn on his wealthy paymasters, even if he wanted to. All Cameron and the Tories can do is spout some tough talking rhetoric on tax-dodging, then use the Lynton Crosby tactic of throwing a dead cat on the table in order to distract public attention away from the issue.
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