I don’t like the idea of the rich getting richer by avoid paying taxes. However, hearing that Barclays Bank has been fined half a billion pounds for helping people avoid tax legally, makes me feel very uneasy and see the shadow of Big Brother growing yet larger.
If you create a fiendishly complicated taxation system, with so many twist and turns that it would make most people’s head spin, then is it an wonder that clever people will find equally fiendish ways around that system? The government crying foul because they didn’t spot the loophole is not just sour grapes on their part, it also smacks of something a dictatorship would do.
If our supposedly democratically elected government can change the rules, making what was legal, illegal and retrospective, where does it stop? What if the government runs out of money to keep inflating their scandalous overseas aid budget, or to continue subsidise wind turbines, might they decide that basic rate taxpayers should of been paying 5% more tax for the last 3, 5 or even 10 years?
The ongoing farce that is Chris Huhne’s game of cat and mouse with the police over his alleged speeding offence, rather sums up the moral degradation issue our country is currently wrestling with.
Those of us who have been elected are regularly told that public service is an honour. We are also told that those of us fortunate enough to gain the public’s trust, through the electoral process, should be prepared to be held to a higher standard of behaviour in office. Chris Huhne’s personal integrity has clearly been called in to question and yet he continues to plead his innocence and desperately hang on to his position as a government minister.
Whilst such behaviour is not exactly the equivalent of rioting or looting, it could be argued that it is actually a form of high class anti-social behaviour. It could also be argued that it should receive the same zero tolerance approach now being demanded for ‘ordinary’ citizens. If it’s good enough for them, then it should be doubly so for those in public office and required to be held to a higher standard.
One could of course argue that Chris Huhne is innocent until proven guilty, but is that an acceptable approach for somebody in a high profile public office? Would not an honourable man, sensitive to the repetitional damage of such grubby goings on, consider his position? History is dotted with the names of honourable politicians who, when their personal integrity was called in to question, stepped aside until their name was cleared – I think David Laws is potentially the most recent example. In doing so, they should be seen as setting an example for other public servants to endeavour to follow.
Unfortunately, Chris Huhne appears to consider himself too important to take such an honourable course of action. Either that, or his moral compass has titled in the same way as all those rioters and looters who took to the streets 10 days ago. Whatever his reasons, it sets a pretty poor example to the rest of us ordinary folk.