Although the online chattersphere now appears to have moved on somewhat, I am still considering the questions raised by the dialogue surrounding last week’s storm. The one at the centre apparently being who involved truly possesses the moral highground. I’ve seen three primary entities being acknowledged in the debacle, so theoretically I could simply take it upon myself to conclude who is the most favourable. However, after some swift deliberation it certainly doesn’t take one long to notice that attempting such basically feels like deciding which member of the Phelps family you’d most like to have round for dinner.
Let’s have a quick gander over those involved, shall we?
1. Large tax-dodging corporations
Vitriol for these entities and their tax records has been increasingly flying around the national media (though undoubtedly absolute faves of The Guardian in particular) for quite a while now. They have been the focus of much of the media storm prior to now and rightly so, accounting for a phenomenal amount of lost revenues for government. Now, don’t get me wrong… there is no doubt in my mind that these businesses present a huge issue for our government to tackle and are definitely the bigger fishes in the tax avoidance pond. But the fact that Jimmy Carr accounts for less lost tax than these companies does not make what he did acceptable or any less morally reprehensible. Individual AND corporate tax evasion are both things that the government needs to act on.
2. Jimmy Carr
Jimmy Carr could possibly be described as the most defendable entity… many a celebrity (and indeed, also many a bog-standard “normal person”) have leapt to his defence, mainly to remind everybody that Carr is personally NOT the main factor in the UK’s tax collection issues, as highlighted in the entry above. Whilst I agree that Carr has been the much-publicised scapegoat of this affair, used rather mercilessly and perhaps inappropriately as a figure of evil in the media. And yes, he is a popular funster and regular feature on our tellyscreens, as well as very possibly an extremely nice man in real life. However, I do think that Carr is being used to represent what has been revealed to us in the last week to be a rather more intrinsic problem. Prior to now, whilst thinking about individual tax avoidance, we may have limited ourselves to oft-mentioned business-orientated Mr. Nasty types such as Sir Philip Green. The revelations about Carr have opened the public eyes to a problem that is far wider than we had ever considered before. If people like Jimmy Carr can avoid tax, who else is doing it? More famous people? Others of notable wealth? Opinions on tax are extremely varied, but for someone like myself there are undoubtedly some moral qualms involved in avoiding tax payments whilst earning substantial amounts of money in this country. Aside from this, I am going to be vaguely prudish and maybe suggest that calling David Cameron a “cunt”, in relation to the Prime Minister’s comments, is a foolish and inappropriate comeback for Carr. It may be true, even in my own eyes, but I cannot support Carr as he gives into immaturity, especially following what appeared to be a modest and sportsmanlike reaction displayed on “8 Out of 10 Cats” last week. Carr is not as evil as the media portrayed him to be, if evil at all! However, I believe his actions were wrong and his subsequent defence is worse.
3. The Government (as represented in this saga by a particularly clammy David Cameron)
In this instance, it has been very difficult for me personally to separate my own personal reservations about the Conservative government (incorporating our rapidly perspiring Prime Minister) from their official line on the case. But it is rather imperative that I at least begin to try. I think that it was important that the Government, as representatives of the British population and those chosen to manage the public finances, assert some kind of opposition to such schemes. Where David Cameron has gone wrong is on 2 counts. Firstly, it is exceptionally hard to David Cameron personally to condemn those involved in the scheme when his own family and indeed many close acquaintances are known to have dalliances in not entirely unlinked practices. Secondly, and this critique may veer into the vaguely more personal, but choosing to pick solely on Jimmy Carr when another high profile celebrity (in the form of Gary Barlow, who even without these revelations is undoubtedly one of my least favourite people in the public arena for numerous reasons) had been pointed out as another participant in the scheme the following day came across only as petty and selective. It was clear that the government had to say something, but there is no doubt in my mind that Cameron has gone about it in entirely the wrong way. I shan’t even get started on his most recent misjudgement of the public mood regarding housing benefit. My observations on that particular doozy certainly merit their own post!
So there you have it. The evidence is not irrefutable, but I do hope that those reading this may stop trying to decide who is the true hate figure and come to the realisation that everyone highlighted here has behaved wrongly in their own special way! Isn’t that nice?