Dodging questions of course not taxes.
Just adding a little to David’s earlier piece on Margaret Hodge…the more you look the less savoury the view…..one QC saying that Hodge’s and her fellow MP’s comments on the tax affairs of the likes of Amazon, Google and Starbucks is an ‘unprincipled attack on the rule of law’.
Hodge is very protective of her reputation….no problem there for her…the BBC at least won’t be doing any digging and asking any awkward questions.
Fortunately others aren’t so scared of her lawyers or her bluster….or more likely won’t be sitting back and enjoying the spectacle of Hodge attacking ‘Big Business’.
So much for transparency and an open democracy….or the rule of Law which seems to have been replaced by self appointed fingerwaggers who think their opinions should outweigh legal opinion.
She tells us: ‘I am not a hypocrite’ and her work will not be undermined by ‘politicaly motivated smears‘.
Have a look at what Channel 4 reports on her reaction to allegations of tax avoidance by a company run by her brother:
“Time and time again I have sought assurances to ensure they do it by the books,” Hodge says.
I have asked him (Ralph her brother who runs the company) more than once.
“I’m a tiny, tiny, tiny shareholder. I’ve done the responsible thing as a shareholder in the company. He has given me 100 per cent reassurance.”
Stemcor has a turnover of something in the order of £6 billion, and has its headquarters in the UK….but ‘In the past 3 years, a total of £14m of corporation tax has been paid by Stemcor in the UK.‘ Though it says it is paying a rate of over 30% worldwide in total.
OK…a tiny tiny shareholder? She holds millions of shares…according to Guido £1.8 million worth….and that this figure “excludes shares held in trust or in her children’s names”….’As Polly Toynbee helpfully explains, this can be used as a clever way of minimising future inheritance tax liability’
Forget Bermuda, Britain’s tax havens are much closer to home
‘It’s easy to point a finger at Amazon and co, but UK-based trusts make it easier than ever for the rich not to pay their share….to avoid “uninvited guests at the sharing out of your estate”. Those “uninvited guests” are the rest of the nation’s taxpayers.
Why any Labour chancellor – or Tory for that matter – lets this dodge persist is a mystery.’
You would think someone, possibly a news organisation that seeks to ‘hold Power to account’ would be asking searching questions of those who claim to hold the rest of us to such high standards as Hodge does.
Only this morning on Today John Humphrys was asking ‘Who guards the Guardians’ (2 hrs 10 mins)..in reference to the police….but just as relevant to anyone in positions of power and influence who seek to lay charges at other’s doors and then issue blame and possible retribution…if only to shame and villify them in public….’It is vital that there is an effective way of calling to account those who wield enormous power if they get things badly wrong or abuse that power.’
And what of Hodge’s claim that ‘Time and time again I have sought assurances…‘……that her brother has reassured her that all is above board and no tax minimising schemes are in place at Stemcor?
Stemcor practises ‘Transfer pricing’….something that Hodge and Co have attacked severely as tax avoidance…but Stemcor, in its own case say……
‘ “Transfer pricing” is not synonymous with “tax avoidance”, Stemcor has nothing to hide and would be happy to provide more detail about its tax affairs to the media if requested. Stemcor’s annual reports for the past five years are available to anyone who requests them via www.stemcor.com.’
That’s OK then.
Fascinating that all it takes is for her brother just to whisper some words of reassurance to her….just a shame Amazon or Starbucks has not employed any of her relatives a cynical comic might suggest.
Is that all she has done to confirm that everything is above reproach? Seek reassurance. It wasn’t such a good way of dealing with things when she was leader of Islington Council was it?
Some people believe Hodge is engaged in a pantomime of political grandstanding of the highest order…one that is aided and abetted by the BBC’s provision of an unquestioning platform from which to broadcast her heady, populist rhetoric….
‘As Tax Journal reported yesterday, David Goldberg QC has described MPs’ recent criticism of multinationals as an ‘unprincipled attack on the rule of law’. The PAC had set up its own standard for HMRC and criticised the department for not achieving that standard, he argued in a letter to The Times. ‘But the standard set up has no basis in fact or in law,’ he wrote, and Hodge had adopted ‘far too broad a conception of tax avoidance’.
However, Hodge’s work has drawn a good deal of popular support, and a leading article in The Times last weekend said Hodge and the PAC ‘deserve plaudits for so influencing the popular mood’.’
Hodge is a Labour MP…member of a Party that was in power for 13 years, a Party that fawned over the Financial markets and businesses as long as they bankrolled their socialist dreams.
Now that dream has gone bust they are looking for someone to blame..and it’s not themselves…..‘Labour tiptoed round the edge of the tax avoidance industry, chased off by City blusterers who called tougher tax collection a Labour stealth tax.‘
As a caller to the Today programme said:
‘If Margaret Hodge doesn’t like the way accountants use the law to save clients tax, then change the law. That’s what’s she’s paid for.’
Exactly…who makes tax laws? The politicians. Margaret Hodge MP is a politician.
What exactly is your record in introducing legislation that tackles the problem of tax avoidance schemes?
Hodge was Labour’s ‘Minister for Industry and the Regions’ 2006-2007….surely she had some thing to say at the time about corporate tax then?
‘Imagine that you are the corporate finance director of one of these companies. Your job is to look at the law as it stands….It is not to say, “this looks pretty bad, we had better write a huge cheque to the government ex-gratia and show that we are good citizens”.’ So says Boris Johnson
Marr asked: ‘Offering up a bit of money for a headline, how would you regard that – intolerable or unacceptable?’
So tax minimising….the choice is….bad or badder….guess the BBC know what to think.
And let’s look back in anger ourselves at one of Hodges Dodges…..her refusal to take responsibilty…her attempts to smear a man (in a private letter to the BBC…an attempt to manipulate their coverage?) who had genuine claims that he was abused in an Islington care home…her attempts to silence all criticism:
‘All right-thinking people like to imagine, when hearing stories of the maltreatment of children, that they themselves would guarantee sanctuary. But often they simply don’t. A senior social worker, Liz Davies, and her manager, David Cofie, first told Margaret Hodge, then leader of Islington council, in 1990 of their suspicions that there was widespread sexual abuse of children in Islington care homes.
Ms Hodge instead believed senior officials who assured her that nothing was the matter. In 1992, the London Evening Standard published extensive evidence of the abuse, which Ms Hodge denounced as “a sensationalist piece of gutter journalism”. In 1995, an independent report found that the council had indeed failed to investigate the allegations properly.
In 2003, Tony Blair appointed Ms Hodge the first ever Minister for Children. Some questioned her suitability, including a courageous and articulate man called Demetrious Panton who had been sexually abused in an Islington care home in the late 1970s and whose attempts to expose what was happening had been repeatedly ignored.
Ms Hodge wrote privately to the BBC describing Mr Panton as “extremely disturbed”, a remark for which she was later compelled to apologise in the High Court.’
Not a woman who takes criticism lightly or accepts blame readily.
No doubt the way life is, some people are due for a fall from grace…and then perhaps the BBC will do its job and start asking interesting questions.