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Tuesday 17 April 2012

Dick And A Secret Tax Return

The deeply subversive Guardian has offended the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, this time over the T-word: transparency, as in tax. Columnists have been permitted not only to be of independent thought – which would never do at the Daily Mail – but also to explore ending the secrecy surrounding citizens’ tax arrangements.

Transparency, guv? That's for window cleaners, innit?!?

This is not acceptable to the Vagina Monologue, and so he has instructed his overmonied and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn to fire a warning salvo of spin and falsehood across the Guardian’s bow. Dick needs no second bidding to go after the Mail’s most hated rival, and so, buried away in today’s Littlejohn column, is his item effectively telling Alan Rusbridger to get his pundits to lay off.

First comes the blatant porkie: “The Guardian is so outraged about invasions of privacy that it wants journalists who hacked into phone messages to be sent to prison”. Of course, Dicky boy. The only problem with that is that, as any fule kno, the paper doesn’t do judgmental. All that has been done on the phone hacking front is that the Guardian has reported the whole grim business.

And Littlejohn has been wailing and whingeing about it ever since the July 2009 revelation that started the ball rolling, mainly complaining that having the Met’s finest investigating “The Dark Arts” meant that ordinary hardworking people were being mugged, knifed, shot, raped and on occasion killed because it was all a zero sum game and the officers who would have protected them were nicking hacks instead.

Back at today’s Littlejohn missive, he switches the subject: “On the other hand, it thinks the Government should publish the confidential [my emphasis] tax affairs of everyone in Britain”. This, too, is not true, but at least Dick is closer to reality this time: pundits whose work appears in the Guardian have been debating the subject of tax transparency.

Poor Littlejohn clearly believes that all papers are run like the Daily Mail, where Paul Dacre hands down the editorial line and enforces it with an iron discipline, so when Polly Toynbee – who Dick usually has no problem in naming – argues for tax transparency to be universal, this is held to be the paper’s view. When Peter Preston and George Monbiot join the discussion, this merely confirms his assertion.

The idea that these and other columnists are free to express their own opinions is anathema to those at the Mail. And what may also be worrying them is Paul Dacre’s unfeasibly large remuneration package, and in Littlejohn’s case, his being absent in Florida, and away from the jurisdiction of HMRC. There may also be freelance hacks with limited companies involved, a practice the paper has already denounced.

So the Mail would rather the subject of tax transparency were not even mentioned.

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