Yesterday morning on The Andy Marr Show (tm), the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the Seventeenth Baronet, told his inquisitor that “no one buys policy in the Conservative Party” and followed that with “It was David Cameron who put tax avoidance at the top of the G8 agenda. Labour was the tax avoider’s friend. We have tackled that. It was wrong and we have put it right”.
An economic policy not to be sniffed at (photo (c) Natalie Rowe)
Osborne may just be bracing himself for a little more questioning on that one, following the revelation that his own party has been so friendly to one person who stands charged with overseeing tax avoidance on an industrial scale that they made him a minister when the Coalition came to power in 2010. Worse, it is the same BBC that broadcast the Marr Show, in cooperation with the deeply subversive Guardian, that unearthed the story.
As the latter put it, “HSBC’s Swiss banking arm helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars of assets, doling out bundles of untraceable cash and advising clients on how to circumvent domestic tax authorities, according to a huge cache of leaked secret bank account files”. The practice can be traced back to 2007, but did not come to light until a few months before the 2010 General Election.
The BBC noted “The bank now faces criminal investigations in the US, France, Belgium and Argentina” before mentioning that “The man in charge of HSBC at the time, Stephen Green, was made a Conservative peer and appointed to the government. Lord Green was made a minister eight months after HMRC had been given the leaked documents from his bank. He served as a minister of trade and investment until 2013”.
Oh dear, Chancellor! Cue Treasury Minister David Gauke to tell “In terms of Stephen Green, I don't think there is any suggestion or any evidence that he was involved or engaged in some of the behaviour that occurred in the subsidiary in Switzerland” and then attempt to dump it all on Labour: “I think there are questions to be answered by the likes of Ed Balls, who was City Minister at the time”.
But there was, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. This particular tax evasion activity did not come to light until 2010, and it was after that information had become available that Stephen Green was made a minister. So not only would “Auguste” Balls have needed access to a time machine to make Gauke happy, the Tories have serious questions to answer here.
That hasn’t stopped the Mail going onto Labour-bashing autopilot in an effort to get readers to “look over there”, but it is coming clear that when Osborne said to Marr that “support from business, by the way, shows that we have an economic policy that works”, that economic policy included taking into the Government someone who had apparently overseen seriously dodgy activity - no questions asked.
Perhaps the Chancellor would like to revisit his assertions. Or perhaps he’ll keep schtum.
Shouldn't take long to find out what Tories thought of Rev Flowers during his tenure as Chair of The Coop bank.
I seem to remember they weren't quite so friendly with their views as they are with one of their own.
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