[Updates, two so far, at end of post]
This morning, Labour challenger for the London Mayoralty Ken Livingstone was interviewed on The Andy Marr Show (tm). The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, who styles himself Guido Fawkes, was watching, but sadly for The Great Guido, his interpretation of that interview does not tally with what Livingstone said, and his sources are of dubious veracity.
The interview covered a number of subjects, most of which the Fawkes blog has steered well clear of: no mention is made of Boris Bikes, Boris Buses, the Cable Car, the housing waiting list in the capital, or fare increases. Instead, Staines has chosen to bang on about Livingstone’s limited company, while conveniently omitting any mention of any similar arrangement for his beloved Bozza.
“Ken Livingstone claimed that Silveta Limited, the company he owns ... funded two of his campaign staff” asserts the Fawkes blog. The interview, video of which has been posted and is included here, can be checked to verify this. Sadly for Staines, it is clear that Livingstone made no such claim. So when Staines includes a “Lie-O-Meter” in his post, he should point out that it refers to him.
Of course, Staines and his tame gofer, the flannelled fool Henry Cole, are free to make a complaint to the Electoral Commission, but there the less than dynamic duo do not have a good record of success: two complaints about Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne, both made with great fanfare, were summarily thrown out. Given this less than illustrious past, no-one should get their hopes up.
Additionally, Staines’ source for Livingstone’s income is the legendary purveyor of dodgy journalism Andrew Gilligan, whose recent offerings have passed before my inspection (HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE) and been found wanting. Gilligan, like Staines, is a clueless and blinkered tribalist, and should not be taken at his word without a reliable source to back him up.
And Staines’ use of Press TV as a stick to beat Livingstone shows he is playing both sides of the field: he is perfectly happy to quote Press TV host Max Keiser, that accomplished exponent of the drive-by e-shooting, when he wants to make accusations against Tina Weaver over phone hacking (as I’ve shown, Keiser and reality are not always on the same page).
The reality of what the Fawkes blog posted late this morning is that the central allegation is a steaming pile of bullshit, there won’t be any credible or serious complaint to the Electoral Commission, and treating Gilligan as data is an act of expedient desperation. For someone who claims not to be a Tory Party supporter, Paul Staines is doing an awful lot of Tory Party support.
And the result is not in doubt. Another fine mess, once again.
[UPDATE1 1710 hours: right on cue, Andrew Gilligan has taken the Staines post, which uses his dodgy hackery in its support, and quoted it to support another attack on Livingstone.
He tries to suggest that Ken is "only" a freelance, and so not really a small business, but with several income streams, that is exactly what he is, and that is how the tax system treats him. The suggestion that Livingstone somehow doesn't submit a tax return is crap - of course he does.
Gilligan then parades his ignorance by asserting that Livingstone makes "substantial savings" on Income Tax by taking payments as dividends. He does not. The only significant saving is in National Insurance payments, not Income Tax. Money retained within the limited company is still subject to Corporation Tax.
The suggestion that Livingstone's wife somehow avoids income tax by being paid dividends by the company is also bogus: her income is subject to Income Tax, whatever its source. And the mention of expenses is a red herring: any freelance or company employee can also offset tax against expenses. There is no tax avoidance going on when expenses are claimed, and for items such as car mileage on company business, HMRC lay down allowances which apply to all taxpayers.
And, once again, Livingstone did not say on the Marr show this morning that he "used untaxed company funds to pay staff for his Mayoral campaign". Perhaps Gilligan, like Staines, thinks that if he slings enough dirt at the Labour challenger, some of it will stick. But right now, all that has happened is that Andrew Gilligan's pants are in the same state as Paul Staines' - they're well ablaze]
[UPDATE2 12 March 1230 hours: climbing onto the bandwagon today is the Sun's Trevor Kavanagh, who asserts that Livingstone has "a cold-blooded contempt for the normal, acceptable rules of political warfare".
Yes Trev, like phone hacking, computer hacking, bribing the rozzers and other public servants, blagging, harrassment, and dustbin rifling, all of which have been, for your employers, fair game for the past decade, and probably a lot longer.
And your further assertion that "In his first stint as London Mayor, Ken Livingstone turned City Hall into a haven of corruption and abuse of power" is somewhat undermined by the subsequent inquiry which concluded that there had been no such thing.
But with all his mates having their collars felt, perhaps Kavanagh can be forgiven for the odd porkie pulled in the service of keeping his spirits up]