Matthew Norman on Monday: The hypocrisy of Ken's tax affairs is not hard to avoid


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The Independent Online

The unending quest for populist, eye-catching initiatives with which Ed Miliband might be personally associated steers us into the realm of tax avoidance. Sadly this proposal would do nothing to rebuild fraternal bridges, but Little Ed is advised to announce that, as PM, he would fulfil an old Labour pledge to close a gaping loophole.

The latest of Labour's tax-and-spend heroes to be outed as a limited company is Ken Livingstone, right. Ken incorporated himself a few years ago, so Andrew Gilligan reports, when his fast-flowing revenue streams included the Sun column in which he wrote: "No one should be allowed to vote in a British election, let alone sit in our Parliament, unless they are paying their full share of tax."

Well said, sir. Not quite so well done, alas, with the mayoral candidate now paying corporation tax at far below the top rate of income tax.

Among those in Ken's crosshairs who sits in our Parliament, meanwhile, is the mansion-tax advocate David Miliband. The £70,000 he is revealed to have pocketed for a few days spent advising green technology venture capitalists in California, propelling his earnings in opposition through that psychologically crucial £500,000 barrier, will doubtless have gone to the Office of David Miliband Ltd.

All of which is, we ritually note, perfectly legal. And so is hypocrisy to have you bent double over the lavatory bringing up breakfast.


Unholy wisdom of the quarter-wit

Mitres off to John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, for christening The Sun on Sunday with holy wisdom. With Cherie Blair going after Rupert Murdoch for infringing her privacy so soon after attending his older offspring's christening beside the river Jordan (another SOS opinion former), it was great to find the Archbish so bullish about the Sabbath resurrection.

"When I think that we can now get the latest news, politics and sports stories seven days a week from our country's favourite paper," ran his sermon, "all I can say is 'WOW'." That's the King James version, by the way.

Assuming this sentiment persuades the Anglican Church to maintain the policy of alternating its top job between the intellectual leftie agnostic and the quarter-witted right-wing evangelist – the "Runcie-Carey balancing act" as it's officially known by the General Synod – His Grace is shortened to 13-8 favourite to succeed Rowan Williams at Canterbury.


On the side of the absentee landowners

Among those unable to share the Elder Milibandroid's mansion-tax lust is Richard Littlejohn. In a Daily Mail attack on this mooted levy, in part conceived to target foreign residents with large empty houses here, Richard posits that "wealth creators ... need to be encouraged, not vilified or punished". How true.

These days Richard is thought to spend most of his time ruing Britain's descent to hell in a handcart from behind the electronic gates of his Florida mansion. Whether he passes enough annual days in Britain to qualify for full income tax on his seven-figure earnings is unknown. It is also unclear if he retains a house in Britain valued at over £2m.


Unostentatious display of wealth

One tax avoider no one can resent is Sir Philip Green, because he reinvests any savings with such philanthropic abandon.

Sir Philip will fly 150 friends to an unnamed Caribbean island his 60th birthday party next month, The Sunday Times reveals, and hopes to hire Adele among other obscure entertainers.

With the numbers gradually falling (he took 200 to sun-drenched shores for his 50th), he becomes increasingly sensitised to the charge of crass ostentation as he matures.

With or without the Tottenham songbird to play to his JFK, we wish him the happiest of birthdays.


A film about Syria with a sting in the tail

A year from today, God willing, we will take patriotic pride from the Academy Award won by the better half of everybody's favourite tantric tag team. Trudie Styler, tells The Times about her new film production company, and how exciting it all sounds for Madame Sting.

My proposal for her is a satirical romcom, set in 2008, in which an ageing white reggae boy/human-rights champion and his cook-tormenting missus go to Damascus, just after Amnesty published a ferociously critical report about Syrian human rights abuses, to pose for the cameras smiling merrily alongside their dear friends the Assads. If that synopsis doesn't have Best Picture written all over it, what does?