[Update at end of post]
The attempt by a variety of right-wingers to derail the campaign for the London Mayoralty being fought by Labour challenger Ken Livingstone continues, though not with the success they might have expected. Following yesterday’s woeful misunderstanding of London’s Irish community from the Guido Fawkes blog (whose owner is an Irish citizen), comes another plea to HMRC.
Not a good clean fight to get in here
The latter has been made by Matthew “Gromit” Elliott, lord of all he surveys at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA). Elliott has been in touch with the Revenue with another allegation about Livingstone’s tax affairs, but what he has not told is that HMRC has taken such a relaxed stance on the matter that they have not yet given him the time of day.
So not only has no investigation been started into Elliott’s allegation, HMRC has not even considered the letter serious enough to warrant making a decision on it. This explains the urgent tone of the follow-up. Undeterred, he repeats his “belief” that there has been wrongdoing, and then in true TPA fashion, adds a blatant false assumption and asserts it as fact.
And here we find that Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands, yet another of those Hammersmith and Fulham Tories with links to the Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF), has also been stirring the pot over Livingstone’s finances by contacting the Electoral Commission. Hands was rather slow on the draw, though, as the status of the donation he had complained about had already been sorted.
But the reply received by Hands, which has by the happiest of coincidences found its way to the TPA, has spurred Elliott to assert “There therefore now appears to be prima facie evidence that Mr Livingstone was channelling untaxed income paid to Silveta Ltd directly to the Labour Party as a political donation-in-kind, which I understand to be a stark breach of HMRC rules”.
The key word here is “untaxed”. That is the blatant false assumption, and well Matthew Elliott knows it. Without a sight of Silveta’s books, he has no reason to make it. This is yet another circular argument where guilt is assumed at the outset, in order to try and prove guilt. But Elliott has to make it look serious, so continues “I trust that you will investigate this matter with the greatest seriousness and urgency”.
He’ll be lucky if they stop laughing long enough to desist from chucking his time wasting correspondence in the bin. What was that about the TPA being “non partisan”, Matthew? Pull the other one.
[UPDATE 31 March 1430 hours: predictably, the Elliott allegation has been picked up by the Standard's less than fair and balanced "City Hall correspondent" Peter Dominiczak and presented as fact. Livingstone is alleged to have been "forced" to admit that his company had made a donation to the Labour Party, which is somewhere between exaggeration and dishonesty.
Only in the eighth paragraph of Dominiczak's piece does he admit that the allegation came from the TPA, which suggests he's aware that they're known for peddling dodgy motahs. That HMRC haven't yet given Elliott the time of day is, no doubt by sheer coincidence, not told. Plus, with Bozza getting his pal Sarah Sands into the editor's chair at the Standard, there will no doubt be more of the same on the way]